Zimpapers, the government owned and largest media house in Zimbabwe by circulation, revealed through adverts in newspapers today the introduction of its SMS and USSD news services that will be launched on the 1st of May.
The service will provide news from the company’s two most popular titles; The Herald (a daily) and The Sunday Mail (a weekly). More titles may be added. Subscribers to the service will pay $3.50 a month to get news delivered every day. Subscribers choose upon registration if they want SMS or MMS depending on their type of phone. So far the service is available for Econet subscribers only, more than 70% of the mobile subscribers in the Zimbabwe.
It’s not clear yet just how much of the respective paper’s news or headlines will be delivered to a subscriber a day, or if a subscriber has the option to request more details on any piece of news, and if they did, how much more this would cost them. We have subscribed for the service so all this will be clear come May 1.
For $3.50 a month to get the most important headlines of the day, we imagine the service has a high chance to be very successful in terms of subscriptions numbers. Obviously whether people continue their subscription after the first month or not will depend on the quality (quantity as well) and consistency of the service. We also imagine this will be critically useful for those individuals in remote areas where getting the physical paper on time is not as convenient as it is in the cities.
Strangely, the internet versions of the two newspapers are not mobile friendly yet, requiring users to pan and zoom in on content to be able to read it. Would be good is they corrected that.