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Phone extras are upwardly mobile

June 12, 2006 09:55 IST

Picture this scenario. Daniel's senior, Shekhar, is reprimanding him for not meeting the sales target. His explanations do not cut ice with his boss.

He's desperate to wriggle out of the situation so that he can live and fight another day. That's when his mobile phone rings. Some saviour! He looks at his cell, tells Shekhar it's a major client and excuses himself.

Only if Shekhar knew that the client was none other than Daniel himself! To get off the hook, Daniel used a service from Cellebrum called "Excuse Me Please" to click on a pre-defined button that triggered a call to himself.

If Shekhar reads this article, Daniel may not be as lucky the next time around. With scores of innovations (news, astrology, cricket updates, wallpapers, screensavers, railway PNR status and the like are passe) by vendors like Onmobile, IMI Mobile, Cellebrum, Mauj and Mobile2Win, the value-added telecom services market is expected to touch Rs 3,000 crore (Rs 30 billion).

Of course, if players like Bharat Sanchar Nigam and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam get into the value-added services game (they should do so in the coming months) in a big way, the market may even touch Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion) by 2007.

While these innovations are helping the vendors get better margins, they have also brought about a radical change in the way mobiles can be used.

For instance, you have the "Select Caller List" wherein you can define a caller list or black-list (numbers can be barred). You can also play a message of your choice to the caller.

Imagine the next time you get an unsolicited call from a bank and the caller hears: "This is high court lawyer Ramsay. How can I help you?"

Then there are services whereby you can play background music of your choice even as you're talking to your girlfriend or boss.

The solution is different from the colour ring back tones solution where music is played before the call is connected. In BGM, music is played after the call is connected.

Cellebrum calls this BGM offering "Liars and Lovers". Of course, speaking about love, romantically-inclined and time-starved executives can download their spouse's favourite song onto their mobiles, sing and record it (karaoke) and cajole him/her to call in and listen. Needless to say, while love is blind, it may not be deaf.

You can also learn yoga or cooking on your mobile with Mobile2win's "Mobile Yoga" and "Wireless Recipes". "Mobile Yoga" comprises different "yogic asanas". After mastering the basics, you can download the intermediate and advanced levels if you wish.

"Wireless Recipes" features chef Tarla Dalal and her cooking expertise. There are healthy fast-food recipes available for the calorie-conscious and the best of microwave recipes for pizzas and pastas.

There is also the "Online Comedy" from Cellebrum, which is an interactive voice response-based automatic speech recognition service.

You simply need to dial a predefined IVR number and say "Comedy" and it will play non-stop comedy on your mobile, leaving you in a fit of laughter (that's if you have a sense of humour). The voice chat service is for those of you who wish to chat with people without disclosing your identity.

Mauj, on its part, has nifty phone tools for downloads such as the "HeresyComposer" which helps you create your own mobile greeting cards with the photos you clicked; the "PhotoArtPhotoArt" with which you can paint a picture of someone you love or a place that you have been to; the "RingtoneStudioRingtoneStudio" with which you can become a DJ and remix your existing ringtones to be unique; and the "CameraFXCameraFX" to take photos of your friends or put a "heart" frame around your loved one's photo.

And if retirement is on your mind, you can get God on your mobiles too. There's "Bhakti Sagar", for instance, that can provide you the opportunity to listen to religious discourses and hymns on your mobile. Gurbani, on the other hand, is an IVR-based service for Sikhs. And, this is just the beginning.

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Leslie D'monte in Mumbai