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Itllusion’s mobitones VAS. Our brief take on it

Not too long ago, we had a meeting with Nzwisisa Chidembo of Itllusion to know more about his start-up. The start-up is a mobile Value Added Services provider that has divided its offering as follows:

Mobitones:

Mobile content targeting the end user. This involves games, wallpapers, tones, music and premium SMS subscription content.

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Mobiplay:

Mobiplay assists brand owners and organisations to run competitions and promotions through the company’s short codes and campaign management system

MobiConnect: Provides bulk SMS services to brand owners and organisations

MobiWeb: This service provides mobile web design services

The company has been operating since January this year and has a VAS agreement with Econet Wireless. Chidembo was tight-lipped on the revenue sharing percentages.

Mobitones is taking the lead in its service offering, of which a number of ads have been appearing in local newspapers for a few months now and recently, began appearing on ZBC, Zimbabwe’s only TV broadcaster. We were particularly intrigued by Mobitones as it appears to be the only value added content service with significant prominence locally.

According to Nzwisisa, his company’s focus on exclusive content, experience in this area and localisation strategy is what makes Mobitones stand out. Furthermore he mentioned that Itllusion has a long term strategy across its business segments and is not in the game to make a quick buck. It is evident in the marketing collateral and adverts we have seen that a significant level of investment has been made.

While Mobitones has managed to enter into a tough market to penetrate with a youthful zest and a consistent marketing effort, l was concerned after subscribing to the service for trial purposes. With an attractive catalogue in one hand and my Nokia 6300 feature phone  in the other, choosing between jokes, tones, and wallpapers was so easy…I made a smile of it. I then received an SMS from Mobitones (via the 31110 shortcode) and sat back in anticipation of great jokes.

Well the first joke arrived and left me in laughing. At myself.

If at first you do succeed, try not to look astonished!

Maybe it’s just me but for between US 29 cents and 49 cents a day, l expect more sense. Yes, this was the first joke but it didn’t make a first impression, especially considering that a colleague who says he subscribed to the sports news only received one tennis updates upon subscribing.

The content definitely needs improvement.

Upon completing the trial l then decided to unsubscribe and to my shock realised information on how to do so was just not there. For a product that clearly has potential, l felt cheated as l and probably many consumers who have subscribed to this service, just can’t unsubscribe. I proceeded to contact the company and received the following message:

When you SMS mobitones to 3 11 10 you get life time access to our online catalogue so it’s not a subscription service. If one wants to be removed from our database though, not wanting to receive product updates, they can email our support or call us this is highlighted in the terms & conditions #9 on the Mobitones.

Number  9 of the service’s Terms and Conditions states that:

 Updates will be sent until cancellation

This practice needs to change. l don’t think my basic understanding of the English language is the problem here. We expect better from Itllusion.

Mobiplay has had a slower presence on the market as it has an enterprise focus with only Spar Machipisa and Mahatma Rice the only campaigns it has done so far. Judging by the ease of navigation, speed and clean design of the mobitones.mobi website, Mobiweb can be successful in getting local companies online.

Mobiconnect on the other hand is playing in a very competitive area as local companies like QwertyVAS , G-Telecoms, ICT Warehouse, Webdev’s txt and others are fishing in this pond already. International service providers like Clickatell and hundreds of others also provide bulk SMS services.


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3 thoughts on “Itllusion’s mobitones VAS. Our brief take on it

  1. How viable is the idea considering people have already adapted to aqcuaring content from free sources since such services havent been around of late. I guess its cheaoer than downloading a file off the net. Knowing how Zimbabwean companies strip consumers off anything in exchange for internet. Good start-up might need better strategies. Now that he has access to the Econect infra what he has to do is not try to mirror what opther companies are doing but solve a problem. In my opinion that isnt at all solving a problem. Imagine m-cormerce as a solution to a problem ..just saying. He has done an awsome job just to get that stingy Econect company to let him use their Ap. lOOK FORWARD TO HEARING MORE

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