Voice portal services in India are one of the most successful VAS ( Value Added Service) in terms of revenue generation. Voice portal is steadily growing in India. Voice Portal operators like OnMobile, One97, Cellebrum ( Now Spice Digital), IMI Mbile, Rajasthan Patrika, etc. are few players who are spearheading the voice portal growth in India. Presently, voice portal services in India normally work on a “short code” ( short dialing number for users) and ‘users-pay-per-minute-of-usage’ basis.
Voice portal is set to continue growing in near future despite its high cost to users ( ( Rs. 6 per minute, while normal voice call in India is now as low as 45 paise per minute). It is also expected that the price will come down with introduction of subscription model, where voice portal users subscribe to its service and can avail at much lower rate that Rs. 6 per minute.
Here are few reasons why it will grow in India :-
1. It does not require any learning for usage unlike SMS/MMS service.
To use voice portal services, one does not have to learn or know anything new with his mobile phone. Anyone who can dial using a mobile phone can start using voice portal. While to use, SMS, one has to learn writing in English, English language, typing using Mobile keypad etc. Using MMS service are more cumbersome as one has to get a GPRS high end phone, GPRS activated from mobile service provider etc.
Voice portal provides simple voice based menus to choose where one has to just speak or press telephone keys. So, users does not have to learn anything to start using voice portal services.
2. Large number of Languages and speakers
India has more than 2500 dialects and 22 recognised languages. It is not easy to deliver information or content in these languages through SMS/MMS or even computer. IVR offers unique medium to offer content, information in voice using their mother tongue to all masses.
Voice portals using vernacular languages offers unique advantages of availing any information in voice in their own language by its users.
3. Using voice portal is easy
Voice portal is normally easy to use as it provides one option at a time in voice. It can offer one service in one number. One does not have to remember Keywords as in SMS portal for different services. It is also easier to download widely popular Ring Tone using a voice portal than SMS portal as one can listen to Ring Tone preview before downloading.
4. Large rural and illiterate population
India has large rural population and large population which are illiterate. So, providing information to them using computer, news papers etc may not be as useful as it is for illiterate people. Voice portal can be used effectively for these disadvantaged people for providing information in voice in their native languages.
It is not difficult to build many voice contents specifically for rural people. So, voice portal can grow to be preferred content delivery platform for rural population in India.
5. Some contents are better presented using voice portal
There are few contents which are presented better using an IVR or voice portal. For example music. One may listen to music on IVR only, not using SMS!
Likewise, contests with large questions with multiple options are easier to play on IVR that SMS. So, usage of voice portal is bound to grow in near future in India.
High cost of voice portal access may be one barrier which may hinder its growth. But with more competition as well as private voice portal with specific service in the menu, one can expect the price to come down for everyone to be able to access voice portal service.