While the world is talking about Vodafone's confirmation that it's in merger talks with Idea Cellular, the latter on Monday announced three new mobile application as part of its new Digital Idea apps suite. The company launched Idea Music Lounge, Idea Movie Club, and Idea Game Spark apps . It added that the launch signals Idea's move from a mobile operator to an integrated digital services and solutions provider for its nearly 200 million subscribers.
Idea's new offering comes a few months after Reliance Jio launched its own Jio entertainment services. Idea's service touts to offer a "collection of popular and premium content including a rich assortment of Hindi, vernacular and international content," according to the company's statement.
The Idea Music Lounge provides a number of new features, including a 'DJ Mode' which enables transition of songs for a DJ effect; 'Wake Up Mode' with the user's favourite song; and 'Dynamic Lyrics' that provides lyrics while listening to a particular song. The music app will offer unlimited downloads at a subscription of Rs. 49 per month. An introductory offer will give subscribers downloading the Idea Music Lounge app till March 31 a free subscription for 90 days from the time of downloading
Meanwhile, the Idea Movie Club will offer movies, live TV and a number of original content and short videos across all genres and several languages. The app is available on Google Play Store and iOS store. Similar to the Idea Music Lounge app, the Movie Club app will be priced at just Rs. 49 per month and is being offered with a similar introductory offer.
The Idea Game Spark is available for both Idea and non-Idea users through www.ideagamespark.com and will offer unlimited games across genres as well as latest and popular virtual reality games. The subscription charge for the Idea Game Spark is at Rs. 29 per month for unlimited games both online and downloads, for all consumers and comes with a similar introductory offer as the other two apps. For now, while games are available via a monthly subscription, Idea is planning to introduce per download and freemium tariff models. Idea also announced that it is partnering with Paytm for this Digital Idea initiative, which will be used to help power payments, and e-commerce initiatives.
In contrast, Reliance Jio has a slightly different set of digital offerings. Jio's apps cover Jio Music (for music streaming), Jio TV (for live TV), and Jio Cinema (for video on demand), along with a number of other apps including magazines, news, and a digital wallet Jio Money.
Jio's apps will all be free to use for all Jio subscribers until the end of 2017 - and of course, another key difference is that you'll be paying for data use on the Idea apps from the start, while all data consumption on Reliance Jio is still free until March 31, thanks to the Happy New Year Offer.
Speaking on the launch of the Digital Idea apps suite, Himanshu Kapania, Managing Director, Idea Cellular, said, "Having committed significant investments in building a world class wireless broadband network in the country, Idea has decided to enhance its portfolio of services. With the birth of 'Digital Idea', the company is gearing itself for catering to the growing population of mobile users who consume digital content on their mobile devices... Our vision for 'Digital Idea' is based on the concept of 'Digital Inclusion' rather than disruption - natural extension for the Idea transforming consumer. We are confident that the new 'Digital Idea' will be an important and significant contributor in shaping New Digital India."
Idea claims to have more than doubled its mobile broadband network on 3G/ 4G platform over the last one year. The company's newest entertainment offering looks to challenge Reliance Jio's own services which has garnered record breaking numbers since its launch.
Speaking on the occasion, Sunil Tolani, National Head of Digital, Idea Cellular, said "Digital Entertainment services is just the beginning. Idea will, in the immediate future, also expand its digital offerings into digital communication, digital payments, cloud & storage, digital information and many more."
In a quarterly investor report released in September 2016, Idea had announced plans to enter segments such as bill payments, music and video streaming, online gaming, cloud storage, banking, and instant messaging in 2017. Other opportunity areas cited in the report include navigation, e-commerce, emails, Internet search/ Web browsing, social networking, and download & save content. However, it did not say whether it plans to foray into these fields this fiscal year.