Star looks to give mobile users a Plus experience

MUMBAI: In an effort to tap into the burgeoning mobile sphere, Star India is launching the platform Plus by the end of February.

Star is hoping this initiative will help users go beyond using the mobile for text and voice. It is being positioned as a solution for consumers to catch up on television, sports, movies, shop and bank on the go.

Speaking on this, Star Mobile Entertainment senior VP Viren Popli says, "The mobile service is a particularly valuable tool for those who do not have access to the net. They can access the digital world. You do not need to change your phone. You need GPRS to download the application for free. There will be a monthly fee of around Rs 2 for the content. Of course ringtone downloads or purchases will be billed separately.

"Once a user downloads the application he will see nine buttons. These are TV, Sports, Music, Movie, Lifestyle, Community, Downloads, Info Services and Help. TV has a TV guide. We also offer mobisodes of our shows. This is basically a summary of the episode that has just aired. You can also get wallpapers. As far as information services are concerned we have a few partners. For banking we have tied up with HDFC. It allows you to access your account, ask for a cheque book."

Popli adds that in the travel, segment there are two partners - Travelguru and One can buy tickets and make hotel reservations. Star has also tied up with Infomedia for the Yellow Pages service. Here you can search for phone numbers. For astrology there is a tie-up with Dinesha Speaks. The sports section has a news desk for cricket, hockey, golf, tennis etc. One can also get ball by ball updates.

In the movies section one gets clips, news and reviews. For music the firm has tied up with Universal Music. One can get information on new releases, classics etc. One can listen to clips before deciding whether or not to make a purchase. Popli adds that as of now five to 10 per cent of mobile phones in India have GPRS. Hopefully in two years time with services like this launching 30-40 per cent of phones will have GPRS.

He says that the service took six to seven months to set up. One criteria was that the user should not have to change his/her phone. Also the interface needed to be easy to use. Right now the interface is in English but Star is looking at making it available in other languages as well. Going forward Plus' aim will be to add to the depth and breadth of the services it offers.

For instance, in TV in the future one might get other channels' schedules and have clips from there besides the Star bouquet. That is one reason why Popli says the name Plus was given to the service to separate it from the Star brand name. The firm is also examining the possibility on introducing mobile blogs, mail as time goes on.

In the Lifestyle section one can get information on cars courtesy a tie up with Overdrive. Then there is a tie-up with T3 for gadget news. Computing information comes courtesy Chip. Design tips will be provided by Better Interiors. Fans of audio can learn what is happening thanks to a tie up with AV Max. If one wants to buy a car for example one can put in a price range and then see what is available. A review will be there and then one can ask for a test drive.

The Community section will offer Midnight Chat on Channel [V] as well as shopping. One can also blog here.

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