WIN plc has nailed a massive mobile content deal today. Hutchison 3G Austria has launched its own portal, Portal 3, to attract subscribers with better content and services. And the delivery and management of the content has basically been outsourced wholesale to WIN.
Who are the players here?
WIN: WIN is a mobile entertainment and content company. It mostly works with companies at the top end of the mobile industry – large brands, vendors and operators. It offers a lot of different services to these companies, including content management and delivery; interactive media like messaging and voice-recognition; advertising and marketing and more.
Hutchison 3G Austria: this is the Austrian branch of global telecoms company Hutchison Whampoa. The “3G” division of the brand offers 3G mobile services in a lot of European, and some Asian, countries – usually just branded as “3″.
What’s the story?
When a Hutchison 3G subscriber in Austria logs on to the mobile web, the first thing they’ll see is the operator portal. It’s a neat trick used by operators all over the world to enforce a little of their power on mobile web users. It gives them the first shot at marketing to that audience, as well as a chance to retain those customers with decent services and content. And this is where WIN comes in – as Hutchison 3G outsources parts of that content service to the company.
What will WIN be doing?
The specific content services that WIN are taking over are:
- Text alerts: this includes both SMS and MMS alerts for news, sports, weather, etc. WIN will also handle the service that users use to create their own text alerts.
- Content delivery: WIN will be providing the mechanism that allows Hutchison 3G Austria to charge for content over Planet 3. It will categorise content by type (video, ringtone, text, etc.) and charge accordingly.
- Providing content: a certain amount of content will be sourced and provided by WIN
- Marketing: WIN will handle some marketing for the operator, including interactive campaigns and messaging.
- Back-end integration: WIN will integrate its billing and analytics systems with 3 Austria, so that it can send reports on content and marketing success, revenue and metrics.
What we think?
While this is a great deal for WIN, I’m not convinced that there’s a pearly future for operator portals. On feature phones that still suffer from awkward internet access, it’s still an essential service. But even feature phones are becoming more sophisticated, with larger color screens and mobile browsers tweaked to work on lower end and Java handsets. Then you look at smartphones – on a half-decent handset you don’t need to EVER see a mobile operator portal, because the experience is so close to being like the full-internet. Operator portals will remain relevant for as long as there are plenty of phones that can’t really access on-line content on their own. But when you can get the exact content you want from the web without much hassle, your operator’s portal starts to look a bit unsophisticated.