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Friday, December 31, 2010

Free SMS sites expect jump in usage around New Year :)

Free mobile short message services provider and e-card sites are betting big on the growing net savvy gene-ration. As netizen finds e-way the ‘cool’ way to wish their loved ones across the globe, firms like Indyarocks, Way2sms, 123greetings and ibibo are expecting a double digit growth in their revenues this December.

“We are seeing an increase in usage of free platform for every single festival. New Year will be the biggest occasion for us and we are expecting around 15 million SMS greetings to be sent during December 31 and on January 1,” said Kalyan Manyam chief executive officer, Indiya-rocks, one of the free SMS providers.

The free service providers who follow a revenue model based on advertisements also see advertisers evincing interest this year. “We are on way to touching a revenue of $0.75 million (around Rs 3.3 crore) this year and we generally see a 60 per cent rise in revenues this festive season due to a high interest from advertisers,” added Manyam.

One of the important resons for the uptake of free SMSs in the rencet time is because all major mobile service providers withdrew offers on voice calls and SMS during festive season. These free services provide netizen the ease of use and ability to send group SMS greetings with a single click of the mouse.

ibibo, a social game provider in India also provides free SMS and free call option for its registered users. “We use all means to enhance social commun-ication, free SMS and free call is also part of this. During the festive season we see a trend in the usage of e-card and we expect an increase of 40-50 per cent this season,” said Rahul Razdan, president - products & operations, ibibo. The companies which witnessed an increment in visitors during Christmas eve, has even come out with innova-tive means to lure users for New Year. For example, Indiyarocks is running a contest where users can share their special moments in 2010 and is also running a virtual movie awards based on users choice. Another player specialised in eCards —123Greetings, has come out with New Year e-greeting with music, animation, special effects and offers more customisation. The site, which sees an average of 399, 250 visitors per day from across the globe, said visitors from India make up around 20 per cent of its traffic.

“Our service is used by over 91 million unique visitors annually and we offer 20,000 greeting cards which is a mix of 3,000 seasonal and everyday cards. However, we see more users using our service during December. We expect a two-fold growth in the number of users and also revenues from India this month,” said Arvind Kajaria, managing director of IntraSoft Technologies Ltd., which owns 123Greetings.com.

The data available at Google Trends India and Google Insights websites hosted by Google which analyses a portion of hot Google web searches, some of the hot searches on December 24 were Way2sms, New year greet-ings, Christmas SMS hindi, jingle bell songs and Christ-mas scraps. The graphs and statistics state most of these searches are being done from cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai and Pune where majority of the working youth are concentrated and Internet penetration is high. Even the data from last New Year’s eve shows that Indians prefer e-cards and e-sms to wish their loved ones and the trend is expected to be the same this year.

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