Building A Micro Payment Based Mobile Marketplace For Digital Content

The mobile phone has evolved from a communication device to a consumer device. Everything that we do in a typical day is moving to the phone. India has seen three primary drivers of mobile usage : voice & sms; messaging & social media; and now shopping.

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The mobile usage trends show that not only is the traditional voice & sms category a near fully mature segment, even the demand for new-age applications are showing early maturity indicators.

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At the same time, digital content consumption on the phone is witnessing a rising trend. While it has been hard for content owners, publishers and app developers to monetize this, early indications show that new-gen monetization models are beginning to have traction.

 

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At Pariksha, we are building our vision of a micro-payment based mobile marketplace for digital content. We believe that as content consumption grows on the phone and as monetization models for content mature, there will be significant opportunity to deliver curated experiences for our customers through a portfolio of apps.

Here’s a sneak preview of our mobile marketplace for digital content and how our apps support this vision. I will write a detailed post on the marketplace next week. Meanwhile, if you have any ideas/suggestions, feel free to send to info@parikshalabs.com.

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Why “Audio” search makes so much sense for a music app

Our app “Filmi Filmy” provides users with a fast and simple way to view their favorite Hindi film songs. We have observed that YouTube has a big collection of Hindi film song clips but the lack of phonetic search and presence of multiple clips with same title intimidate users. “Filmi FIlmy” provides a friendly Hindi phonetic search so that we can find the songs you want irrespective of how the titles are spelled. Also, since we only pick up a single entry for any song, the user is assured of getting the right song clip without having to sift through multiple of choices. The value of “Filmi Filmy” can be seen in the use-case metrics – over 6.5 minutes per session engagement and over 40% repeat users from all the “Indian diaspora” hot-spots on the globe bear testimony.

At Pariksha we are constantly asking ourselves – how can we use technologies and make it easier for the users to do what they want to do. How can we make it faster, more accurate and more user-friendly. For now, our thoughts are locked in on “voice search”. The popularity of SIRI and voice input on android platform point to increased user convenience especially when used in a limited context.

Since all of the song titles are entered in English but represent Hindi words phonetically eg: “O mere dil ke chain”, “Gata rahe mera dil” we think that we can use a voice to speech engine to take user inputs, turn them into phonetic English and use the English text as the search keys. The user will get the feel that the app is searching for the songs basis his/her voice. Our look-ahead mechanism will show users all the songs matching the phonetic tokens and in the case of any default, the user can type out the search pattern directly.

Imagine slumping in a car after a long day and with no energy to type to search, all you have to do is say the song and voila the app will play it on your phone, ear-phone or connected blue-tooth speaker. You can drive hands-free! Imagine being able to do this at home and flick the video to your large TV (thru the chrome-cast interface) – ultimate song viewing for the aficionado.

With this in mind, we are starting an initiative to integrate “Filmi Filmy” with the best speech to text technology. Watch this space for an exciting new innovation that you will enjoy, appreciate and other music apps will emulate 🙂

 

 

 

Does Blocking A Content App Restrict Innovation? We Think It Does.

When we launched “Filmi Filmy”, our app to bring Hindi film song videos from YouTube into a curated experience last year on iOS platform, our hunch about the latent user demand for such an app was proven immediately. We raked up 30,000 downloads in a month and were rated as the #1 new music app in India and #1 music app in Pakistan. The usage stats were awesome, 50% plus repeat visitors and over 8 minutes engagement per session. Indian diaspora from all over the world were searching, playing and enjoying the new found ability to search for Hindi film songs phonetically and enjoy clutter free viewing experience.

At Pariksha, we felt very energetic and enthusiastic. We had demonstrated that a) there was appetite for a Hindi film videos app b) users prefer the high success rate of phonetic search and c) users want convenience and simplicity and not irrelevant choices and having to make endless decisions.

With this in mind we invested further into the product. To expand our reach, we started working on an Android version and even a Windows mobile version of the app. To experiment with business models, we built an in-app purchase mechanism to allow users to save and share playlists. We would allow users to buy credit points and use that to store upto 10 songs in a playlist. Saved playlists could be retrieved from any device and could be forwarded to a friend/family member. If you wanted to impress your girl-friend and praise her eyes, you could send her a playlist with your favorite “nayan” or “nain” or “naina” songs! Playlist could be used to express feelings – just like emoticons. It was an innovation experiment to see if playlist curation could be monetized.

The launch of “Filmi Filmy” on android was very successful. We had 5000 downloads within a week. However, what happened next was a huge dampener. Google blocked the app without any specific reason, claiming we had violated some terms of usage. We requested to know the specific violations and were ready to revise the app to comply with terms of use but in Google land, one deals with an automated system that churns out standard responses with no intelligence to interact with. We were well and truly stumped and out of the largest opportunity – the great Indian android market. We were bumped off the Play Store and facing a huge loss of investment and opportunity.

Interestingly, Google did not complain to Apple Store about the iOS app. It seemed that they were using their control over Play Store to block the Android app but were not sure about the infringement themselves to worry about taking it up on Apple Store.

The block forced us to revisit our strategy. We pulled back promotions and slowed development to try and figure out a new approach. I even tried to approach YouTube team for a potential partnership – after all, we had innovated a new way to use the video content and who best to take an innovation to the masses than a big partner. No luck here too, YouTube is happy to partner if you are a content owner but if you have better ideas than them on using the content, they don’t want to know about it.

Over the next 6 months, we let the iOS app move on its own steam. We were happy to see regular download volume, consistently high engagement metrics and a fairly regular in-app purchase behavior.

We feel that blocking our app on Android restricted our ability to test the key innovations in the large Indian market. It damaged our ability to establish playlist sharing as another “eMoji” type and restricted users from getting access to a simpler, cleaner way to see Hindi film song videos.

It also restricted YouTube’s own ability to monetize its assets. If more people used “Filmi Filmy” and we could work out a partnership to share in the monetization, everybody would benefit. Blocking the app was a loose-loose proposition while it could have been a win-win deal.

But does anyone at Google/ YouTube care? Will they care?

(Check out “Filmi Filmy” and its innovations. Download the app on iOS and Windows and let us know if you agree it provides a better experience for Hindi film song videos than any other music app out there)