Delivery platform gives Etisalat mobile content control

Once content is loaded onto the new platform from the developer, Etisalat acts as the connection to the end user, allocating revenue shares as according to contracts.

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By  Alex Ritman Published  October 4, 2005

Etisalat is launching a new service delivery platform by the end of the year that aims to revamp how the operator interacts with content providers. “Developers load any type of content onto the platform,” says Omar M Al Muzakki, Etisalat’s mobile services business development manager. Etisalat then delivers the content to the customers via different channels, for example SMS, MMS, or digital streaming. “The service can detect whether the phone has the capabilities to successfully use the content,” says Al Muzakki. The system segregates the content and services according to compatibility with different mobile handsets or other devices, meaning that users aren’t burdened with content downloads or service offers incompatible with their model. The new platform effectively rules out all technological contact between the content developer and the end user. “The developer has one link to Etisalat. We store all of the content, and then have the connections to the customers,” says Al Muzakki. To enhance the ease of use, customers are only required to remember one number, unlike a string of codes from each individual developer. “There will be one short code for everybody, and from there they’ll be able to select the content they want,” says Al Muzakki. With only one number to remember, customer usage should increase substantially, and with it revenues for both developer and Etisalat. Regarding issues of revenue, Al Muzakki says there are three options for content providers. “Either the content is branded by Etisalat, with Etisalat responsible for the marketing, it is co-branded, or solely developer-branded.” If a content developer goes it alone, they take 65% of the revenues, Etisalat taking the remaining 35%. A co-branded partnership sees both take 50% each, while an Etisalat-branded and marketed deal will give 35% to the developer. But not all content will be allowed onto the platform, admits Al Muzakki. “Each developer has to first obtain Ministry of Information approval,” he says. But Etisalat still then has the right to block content itself, with Al Muzakki claiming that even with a license, developer’s content still requires continuous checking. In Japan, a content portal from mobile operating giant NTT DoCoMo has seen worldwide success. Its i-mode platform now covers 13 markets and around 50 million subscribers, with 02 in the UK launching commercial services just a few days ago. Al Muzakki says that Etisalat has been in talks with DoCoMo for the past three months regarding the service. “One of the benefits of i-mode is the experience of dealing with content that it brings,” he says, adding that the operator is trying to establish how i-mode would work on top of the new service delivery platform.

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