Indian Entertainment Firm Using Music to Sell Mobile Phones

Super Cassettes Industries, a large Indian entertainment company, plans to enter India's growing mobile phone market by bundling some of its audio and video content free with handsets, a company executive said.

The company, which will start selling mobile phones in January, plans to sell the phones with the T-Series brand under which it currently sells its entertainment content, Neeraj Kalyan, vice president of the T-Series, said on Wednesday.

Kalyan expects that the T-Series brand name, the product and the free content will help it reach sales of 700,000 mobile phones a month in three years. The content may come built into the phones or may be available free for download by users, Kalyan said.

The mobile phone is more than a communications device, and is also an entertainment hub for Indian users, which is the reason T-Series decided to get into the market, he added.

Content can be an important differentiator in the mobile handset market, which is largely commoditized, said D. Rajappa, president of advertising agency Everest Brand Solutions. The agency is handling the T-Series mobile phone launch. Customers will be able to relate to the T-Series as it provides a lot of the content in the Indian entertainment industry, Rajappa added.

The new T-Series phones will retail from 1,200 rupees (US$27) for an entry phone to about 12,000 rupees for a feature phone, Kalyan said. The phones are being manufactured in China.

Music and other content from India's film industry, popularly known as Bollywood, is very popular with Indians. A number of service providers and handset vendors offer music downloads in India. Nokia, for example, offers free downloads of music for a year for buyers of select phones.

Shipments of mobile handsets in India were 38.6 million in the second quarter, up by 60 percent from the same quarter last year, according to research firm IDC India.

The share of new Indian and Chinese brands in India's handset market increased to 33.2 percent in the second quarter, up from 17.5 percent from the fourth quarter of last year, IDC said. These brands have made headway by offering low-cost, entry-level phones with features relevant to Indian users.

Super Cassettes Industries plans to sell its mobile phones through its T-Series outlets as well as mobile phone retail stores, Kalyan said. It will also set up specialized T-Series stores to sell the devices.

The market is still growing, and there is still space for a new entrant, Kalyan said. The company has test marketed the product from May.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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