afaqs!

Buongiorno to launch mobile community and content portal

By Tarana Khan , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | July 11, 2008
The mobile VAS company will launch the Indian version of its mobile portal, Blinko

Buongiorno, the & #BANNER1 & # mobile VAS (value added services) company based in Italy, will launch Blinko.com in India in the next quarter. Blinko.com is a mobile community and entertainment portal currently available in 15 countries with an estimated 100 million users.

Speaking to afaqs!, Simone Ranucci, chief executive officer and chief operating officer, Buongiorno Hong Kong Ltd, says, "Blinko is a portal where people can create profiles, meet friends and chat. They can also buy mobile content and receive offers from brands."

Simone Ranucci

Milind Pathak
The portal will be accessible through GPRS mobile, the Internet and SMS short code. Ranucci says that the service will be subscription based, though later, some free content will be made available through advertising.

Milind Pathak, co-chief executive officer and country manager, Buongiorno India, says the company is speaking to operators to launch the Indian version of the portal.

In May, Buongiorno announced a worldwide (including India) tieup with Nokia to make the Blinko Gold mobile store available on Nokia phones, through which subscribers can buy music, videos, games and graphics.

Buongiorno launched its Indian operations in 2007 and is currently providing B2B services such as interactive mobile promotions, CRM, short code management and mobile advertising to companies such as Times Internet Ltd, Samsung and Neo Sports. Now, the company will venture into B2C services with Blinko.

According to Ranucci, B2C services account for 70 per cent of the revenue of Buongiorno worldwide. The company has a target of reaching one billion mobile users through various services by 2012. Ranucci says that by 2012, India will contribute about 15 per cent of the company's total revenue. He also expects Blinko to have around 15 million users in India in the next two years.

Though there is no successful model of paid mobile content in India, the company is confident that Blinko will do well. "It's about maintaining a balance between pricing and user perception. If you give users the type of content they want, they will pay for it," says Ranucci.

The product is available only on GPRS mobile and this could be a limiting factor. However, Pathak is confident that mobile Internet will grow faster in India than in developed countries. "In India, strong PC broadband does not exist. Therefore, the adoption of mobile Internet will be faster."

Ranucci estimates the Indian mobile VAS industry to be worth about $500 million (Rs 2,150 crore), and expects this figure will double by 2009.

Buongiorno, a listed company based in Milan, has projected revenue of 330 million euros (more than $500 million) for 2008.