afaqs!

More freebies on offer from Ibibo

By , agencyfaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | October 08, 2007
Ibibo has launched a free calling service and an Experts cash rewards programme

Ibibo, the & #BANNER1 & # social media site of MIH Web, continues to offer members freebies through two new services-- Call For Free, where members can speak to each other over the mobile phone for free, and Ibibo Experts, where members can earn money by sharing their knowledge with others.

As the social media space gets crowded with both international and local players alike, MIH Web -- a heavyweight in terms of resources -- seems to be doing its bit to be different. And this subsidiary of the $2.8-billion Naspers Group can afford to do so.

Ibibo launched with a bang in December 2006 by offering Rs 1.5 crore in cash to bloggers. When this led members to indiscriminately upload content on Ibibo blogs, they introduced a rewards programme called ibQash where cash rewards were based on the quality and popularity of the writing.

The company has now replaced ibQash (September 21 onwards) with Ibibo Experts. In this programme, getting cash rewards will be a more hierarchical process through which members have to meet certain conditions. The process of becoming an Expert will depend on the points accumulated by the member in a top category of expertise, say, cars. On enrolling, a member will become an Ibibo Citizen and progress through five stages to become an Ibibo Guru. The programme is valid across Ibibo's platforms including Blogs, Sawaal and Opinions.

The Call For Free feature allows Ibibo members to call each other for free by registering their mobile numbers with the site. Once a member requests to call another member, Ibibo connects the two of them through their server. This way the numbers of the two members are not disclosed to each other.

Despite repeated attempts, no MIH Web spokesperson was available for comment.

Industry players believe that MIH Web is making these calls through a server which automatically connects to the mobile network. MIH Web will, of course, have to pay termination charges (about 40 paise for the first minute and 20 paise for every following minute) to operators for the same. The calls can be made for a minimum of two minutes and a maximum of ten minutes. Members will also have the option of receiving calls only from selected friends or not receiving any call.

According to market watchers, MIH is not using VoIP (internet telephony or voice over internet protocol, for which a license is required) but their own infrastructure. This would be akin to infrastructure used by telecom operators for making automated calls to subscribers.

There is the possibility of inserting ads in the phone calls, but the company has not specified anything at this stage. Neither does it say whether this service will remain a free one in future. And, of course, it remains to be seen how consumers react to free calls that are limited to ten minutes.

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