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Now, downloads get desi

By Priyanka Joshi in New Delhi
November 02, 2006 02:17 IST

If you are an avid mobile user then you would agree that ABC — Astrology, Bollywood, Cricket — are the hottest value added services going in India. Add music, and you also know it's time to lap up the desi flavour.

Popular mobile content is now available in regional languages and mobile subscribers are taking to it like nobody's business. If in the north, people are likely to download Amitabh Bachchan wallpapers and Shah Rukh Khan hit songs, in the south, it's all about Rajnikanth and Nagarjuna screensavers and clips.

Mobile content is a multi-million-dollar opportunity for both content creators and wireless operators.

"Millions of consumers want to play games, or download videos, audio clips, jokes, daily astrology or view cricket scores from their handheld gadgets. But they also want the content in a language they are comfortable with, hence the emergence of regionalised content," opines a telecom analyst.

Content providers have seen phenomenal growth in UP, Punjab, Gujarat, and to some extent, in Maharashtra too.

Special downloads during festivals such as Baisakhi, Pongal, Onam, Diwali, Ugadi, Christmas and Eid also helps in the penetration of localised content. Currently 7,000 full songs/videos are sold daily in India, of which only 10 percent accounts for regional content.

To Mauj Telecom, which has launched a mobile game in 13 languages including Bengali, Tamil, Punjabi and Gujarati, the game is going far beyond so-called 'anglophones'.

Industry estimates indicate that by 2015 global mobile content could be worth in excess of $1 trillion. ""A typical Indian looks towards his culture, Bollywood and cricket team for daily guidance," says Savinder Sarna, head (marketing and alliances), Cellebrum.

"Despite being bombarded with newer content such as mobile gaming, fashion, non-cricket sports, foreign films, regional music and festival based SMSes remain the staple diet of subscribers and are registering three-digit growth," says Gupta.

The tier II, III cities of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kolkata, Gujarat and Punjab have a marked demand for regional content.

Amongst VAS in India (estimated to be worth about $130 million), music claims the largest share.  "Today," says Sarna, "about 60 percent of the mobile content downloaded in south India is in local languages and we are seeing devotional content growing bigger in south zone."

For Cellebrum, regional content contributes around 20 per cent to revenues, a number that's expected to reach 45 per cent by 2007.

Similarly, other zones too are smitten by local content. Gupta is quite confident that Hindi, Tamil and Bengali content will pick up, "as soon as the user interface starts supporting local scripts/fonts".

Mandar Thakur, general manager, Soundbuzz India, acknowledges that the demand for regionalised content has shot up in southern states.

"Tollywood, Kollywood, and Bhangra are certainly among the most popular download categories as far as regional genres are concerned," he adds.

Watch out for video clips in local languages. They could sell faster than you imagine.

Priyanka Joshi in New Delhi
Source: source