Google signs deal with AirTel for GPRS users attention

Why would Google India sign a deal with AirTel to share advertising revenue for data applications?

Bharti Airtel Ltd, India’s largest mobile service provider with nearly 53 million customers, plans to tie up with leading Internet portals for sharing advertising revenue when Airtel’s subscribers visit those websites through mobile Internet.
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Fring de! India

VOIP for mobile happens to be one of my top predictions for fastest growing markets in India. Fring is the application making it happen. It is already the most frequently used application on my Nokia E61i. I use Fring for Skype International calls, chat on GTalk, MSN and other networks. The only drawback is that it seems to suck out your mobile battery faster than you can imagine. I end up having to restrict its use to only when I am traveling.

The people behind Fring seem to acknowledge the huge interest and potential and have dedicated a blog to India. The blog is a great addition to help their customers, announce features and new phones compatible with Fring.

Now if only AirTel, Vodafone and the other big Mobile boys wake up and learn to walk their customers through enabling wireless data on their handsets.

Another product riding the mobile wave in India is Mowser who claim to receive more than twice as many mobile requests from India alone. Rajan attributes that interest primarily to dial-up users from India who use Mowser and other content adaptation engines for mobiles to surf the web.


My Nokia E61i

I have been eyeing a new phone to replace my existing Nokia 6230 for a while now. I finally caved in and bought a brand new Nokia E61i from the Nokia priority dealer in the Pune city area today.Nokia 6230

My last smart phone was a BlackBerry 7100. The phone was tuned for e-mail like other BlackBerry’s. However, the 7100 fit well in my jeans since RIM managed to squeeze in two alphabets for every key. Setting up GMail on the BlackBerry was a breeze and did not require additional tweaks. Using the proprietary BlackBerry network, my desktop Outlook contact book always stayed in sync with my BlackBerry. I could even charge my BlackBerry over USB – a feature that was extremely handy when I traveled overseas.

The BlackBerry 7100 (and later models) are killer e-mail devices because they do the following extremely well.

  • push e-mail
  • new e-mail notification
  • a huge local e-mail cache with search
  • a complete contact book to store names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses
  • keep your e-mail, desktop contact book and calendar in sync without cables
  • the ability to modify your “sent from”
  • auto configure access to GMail and other popular personal e-mail providers

However, without the BlackBerry network, it is next to impossible to provide the functionality listed above. Joining the BlackBerry network in India costs Rs. 2000 a month which is by no means priced for individuals. In comparison, AirTel GPRS costs Rs. 350 a month with no caps on how much data you can transfer. Additionally, we decided to avoid Microsoft Exchange and opt for Google apps for our office e-mail infrastructure. Until and unless you plan to be on the BlackBerry network, a BlackBerry might not be a good fit.

Nokia E61i

There are several phones that compete fairly in the general smart phone category. I had a serious look at Samsung i600 (~Rs. 18,500), Nokia E62 (~Rs. 12,500). The Nokia E61i was the final winner primarily because it is based on the very stable Symbian OS. Also, it is an improvement over the earlier (tried and tested) Nokia E61 and was launched in May 2007. In terms of features and connectivity options the E61i is comparable to other phones in the category.

Nokia E61i - package contents

The Nokia E61i costs a little north of Rs. 18,850 here in India. Additional charges including VAT apply. In my conversation with the dealer, he claimed that Nokia phones have only a 1% retail margin and therefore credit card charges would be over and above the price of the phone (an additional 2%). Unlike the US, additional discounts are not offered by carriers. You usually end up paying the full cost of the phone and having a zero commitment contract.

The phone comes in a box with a battery charger, a single battery, a memory card (microSD) of 256MB, a pop port headset and a CA-53 data cable. The Nokia CA-53 data cable happens to be the most popular data cable as far as duplication by after-market vendors. I have attached a screen shot of the cable to help identify the real thing. Fake Nokia CA-53 cables never work as intended.

I will be looking to get the best out of the phone in the coming weeks and promise to highlight some of the best applications available out there.

Related Links and Credits:

Nokia E61i is just about good for anything

Nokia CA 35


Mobile orkut scraps

If your obsessed with scrapping on Orkut your going to love this hack. NGCoders have a simple PHP script that consumes your Orkut scrapbook to create an RSS feed. You can then pipe the RSS feed to your mobile through Mobile Google Reader to make your scraps easier to read. So now you can track any scrapbook from anywhere – what remains is the part where you scrap back.


RIM is Research in Motion

This reporter thinks that the new BlackBerry 8800 from AirTel is somehow connected to Reliance?

New Delhi: There’s good news for the Reliance phone users.

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Wednesday launched a new model of RIM’s business phone Blackberry in the Indian market at a price of Rs 31,990.

Can’t blame him, RIM in India is also Reliance India Mobile.

Here is the full article – AirTel launches BlackBerry 8800 in India (CNN-IBN).


GPRS and m-blogging in India

Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson are excited about the potential of m-blogging in the Metros according to this article in the Economic Times. The article is bullish about the future of m-blogging but does not really put across any hard facts.

Notice the fact that of the consumers who opt for a GPRS-enabled handheld, less than one in 4 opt for GPRS from their mobile provider. Only the carriers have themselves to blame for the current trend. I believe that poor support for GPRS services and awareness of applications for the service are to blame.

There are over 156 million mobile subscribers in India. According to industry estimates, around 10% of mobile subscribers in metros use GPRS facility and 2-3% in tier II and III cities have hooked on to GPRS facility, which allows fast internet access on mobiles. Approximately 40-45% phones sold in India are GPRS enabled. According to IDC, in India the sale of camera phones is registering around 25% quarter-on-quarter growth.

Globally there are 200 million bloggers. Industry estimates put 100,000 as the figure for India. (According to Blog Herald, there are 1.2 million bloggers in India). And the number is growing. “The number of m-bloggers is fast growing though the trend is just an year old,” says Nokia’s Mr Taneja. Nokia N series has m-blogging feature to capture the potential of this segment.


Google Reader for Mobile RSS for news, blogs and more

I switched to Google Reader recently from a desktop-based RSS client. Google Reader offers an advanced web-based RSS interface and a rich feature set. The key feature for switching to Google Reader was mobility and access from any terminal.

For those not familiar with RSS, it is the cheapest and quickest way to customize your own newspaper with the help of a client like Google Reader. RSS is also the most popular way to publish, distribute, collect, and filter information on the web. You can learn more about syndication on the Google Reader FAQ.

The easy way to get Google Reader for your mobile is to bookmark this link – http://www.google.com/reader/m with your mobile phone browser.

In order to enable Google Reader on your Google home page, add the Google Reader module to your home page by clicking on Add Stuff, search for the keyword Reader. The first result should be Google Reader (Labs) module. Click on Add it Now.

Now access your personalized Google home page from your mobile phone by bookmarking on this link – http://www.google.com/xhtml. Click on Personalized Home. You should be prompted to sign in immediately. Do so, and then bookmark your personalized home.

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