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SMS service leaves rivals' in the dust
Brian Gondo, Technology Zimbabwe
May 30, 2012
View this article on the Technology Zimbabwe website
This last month
(May) we at Techzim have been using the Herald and Sunday Mail service
known as MobileNEWS and we have not been disappointed by it. The
two newspapers are the flagship titles in the Zimpapers stable.
Everyday, like clock work, at 6.00am the service has delivered the
papers' headlines to our mobile phone. In the event that a
user does not receive the news SMS the product has a feature that
allowing you to send a request that initiates the processing of
your news SMS, which is subsequently sent. In our experience so
far we have not had the need to do this.
In an effort
to find out more about the market's reception of the service
Techzim spoke to Munyaradzi Hatendi, the Zimpapers Marketing Manager,
who revealed that there has been positive response from the market.
So far 5,000 subscribers have signed up for the service in the first
month. Given that the service is priced at $3.50/month this represents
$17,500.00 in revenue. Obviously this amount is shared with their
exclusive partners Econet, the mobile network.
that although the uptake has been positive they are looking at refining
the product and to improve the user experience. One area they have
identified relates to airtime balances and recharge amounts. For
most subscribers having an airtime balance of $3.50 or more in one
instance is a challenge, so for convenience the Herald is introducing
a smaller amount payment option. Observations of the market have
shown that the majority of phone subscribers top up their accounts
with $1 per recharge cycle, so to accommodate this reality the Herald
plans to offer customers an option to pay 0.50c. This subscription
would be valid for several days which they will officially announce
in the early part of June 2012.
the newspaper group has learnt is the need to spread the reach of
their advertising. To date their service has been advertised exclusively
in the Herald but Hatendi noted that the bulk of their target audience
resides in the rural Zimbabwe and the chance of these potential
subscribers missing the adverts is significant. To address this
issue the Herald intends to launch an SMS based advertising campaign
designed to inform these potential customers.
media group's intention is to expand the MobileNEWS service
to cover their other titles such as Kwayedza and the Chronicle.
This however will depend on the success of the current pilot initiative.
We are yet to
see similar services being introduced by the Herald's major
competitors namely Newsday and the Daily News. A similar situation
prevails with the country's major weeklies the Financial Gazette,
Independent and The Standard. Trevor Ncube, who owns Alpha Media
Holdings the publisher of Newsday, Independent and Standard is an
avid user of Twitter and Facebook so it's surprising to see
his titles not innovating on this front.
suggests that the local newspaper industry does not take the digital
opportunities and threats seriously. In today's technological
environment were media is migrating to various digital platforms
it is strange there isn't more experimentation by all players
in the newspaper sector.
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