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Reaching Internet-dark Mobile Users: Biz Head Of txtWeb

Texting could be on the decline in some of the more mature telecom markets but it still has a life. At least, that’s what Manish Maheswari, GM & global business head txtWeb, Intuit India, would have us believe. Speaking at the digital and mobile marketing conference Click Asia Summit 2012, he shared views on how to reach Internet-dark mobile users.

“Most of the connected people in the world have a mobile phone but no Internet/data plan. In India itself the numbers of mobile phone users are over 800 million, whereas the number of people who access Internet from their phones is much less.  The major problems mobile phone users face is slow Internet, no Internet or no Internet friendly smartphone,” he said.

Maheshwari also pointed out that there is a greater uptake of SMS (an average Indian sends 29 SMSes per month) in comparison to mobile Web and SMS is much less expensive too. Citing example of his own business unit that allows users to access information on the move even if they don’t have an internet enabled mobile phone he said txtWeb is primarily a pull service, similar to the Internet as users can choose what they want, when they want and they receive it as an SMS on their phones.

It provides Web like interaction and delivery without the Internet. It is a global platform where anyone with a mobile phone can discover and consume internet and txtWeb-only content just by SMSing keywords (very much like entering domain names into Internet browsers) to one national number, and receive back content (up to 900 characters per SMS).

The keywords represent an almost unlimited number of applications that use content from the Internet or have their own original content.  These applications are created by an open community of publishers and developers and can include Wikipedia content, local market prices, government programs and financial literacy tips, among others.

To use the service, users have to type the keyword for the service they are looking for like SMS @CRICBUZZ and SMS it to 9243342000 (in India) to receive the latest cricket scores or SMS @STOCKTIP to get stick tips. Last we checked there were 700 services that have been crowdsourced. The company does not charge for the service and users do not pay any premium charges to access this service. Only standard SMS rates as per the carrier plan apply (so if you have a free SMS plan, you can use the service for free).

Maheshwari concluded by saying that by 2014, there will be an estimated 6.3 billion SMS users in the world out of which 3.2 billion will be from Asia Pacific, hence the opportunity is huge.

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