Story, story…coming to your phone

17 Dec

Indian mobile Internet provider One97 has taken another step into West Africa’s value added service market with a new audio storytelling portal partnership with Nigeria-based mobile operator Glo. The deal will enable Glo’s users in Benin, and later Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, listen to favorite stories via their phones on-demand.

“Story portal helps a telco to create a close bond with the customers,” said One97 Senior Vice President Kiran Vasireddy. “It takes customers back down memory lane by listening to stories that have been passed on for generations and have inspired them.”

One97 signed a similar agreement with Tigo for Senegal, Tanzania and Rwanda in September. Audio story portals, which present a blend of traditional modes of entertainment with mobile technology, can help service providers nurture long-lasting relationships with customers, One97 says.

The agreement with Glo also includes a voice and SMS-based subscription service that will offer users beauty tips, football alerts, health updates and daily thought-of-the-day quotes. “Our association with Glo goes back many years,” Vasireddy said. “We constantly enhance and innovate our product offerings to bring greater value to this relationship.”

The new service allows users to listen to children’s and inspirational stories and fiction while on the move. A selection of audio books by local authors and voiced by African talent has been curated from Glo’s subscriber base.

With time, One97 plans to partner another telco in Africa. “We find this service has created a differentiator for operators and it is running successfully with a few operators in Africa and we have plans to extend it to more countries and operator,” Vasireddy said.

The extent to which users will embrace this new service is not yet clear, but oral storytelling, which is usually laden with folklore, ode, songs and poetry, has been an African tradition. It is believed that certain norms and wisdom are transferred through this process. Today, many cultures across the continent have lost this tradition to other means of entertainment.

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