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Beyond call and text: Smart embraces ‘digital tsunami’ in 2013

SMART PowerApp

With Filipinos already fast taking to Facebook, WeChat, and Instagram—to mention some of the current and more popular mobile apps offered by so-called OTT’s or over-the-top players, telecommunications companies, like the country’s leading wireless services provider Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), have been adjusting their game by joining the bandwagon.

“This year, Smart has struck strategic partnerships with OTT players to offer our subscribers a wide range of online communications services that complement our call and text services. Subscribers can definitely expect more of these unique services targeting mobile apps as we move into 2014,” said Charles A. Lim, Executive Vice President and Head of Wireless Consumer Business for Smart and Sun.

Figures suggest this shift is paying off. As of the third quarter 2013, Smart’s mobile Internet revenues had reached P3.4 billion, which is already higher than full-year mobile Internet revenues of P3.1 billion in 2012.

Since embracing the “digital tsunami,” Smart’s mobile Internet traffic increased significantly across the board, Curran said, and is expected to rise further as new services, such as the newly launched PowerApp, entice users to go online and more Filipinos shift from feature phones to smart devices.

Launched with a free Social bundle promotion, PowerApp offers the most affordable unlimited Internet bundles with no hidden charges—part of the reasons why users are still apprehensive to use the Internet on their phones.

Strategic Partnerships
The Philippines has long been known as the “texting capital of the world.” But that is changing as more Filipinos shift to smartphones—at a rate of as much as 146% as of May 2013 according to research firm GfK, making the country the fastest growing smartphone market in the region. As a result, more and more cell phone users are using mobile apps as well.

Early on, Smart recognized this trend and quickly brought to market the Unli25 bundle that combines unlimited calls to Smart and Talk ‘N Text subscribers, unlimited texts to Smart, Talk ‘N Text and Sun Cellular subscribers, 15MB of mobile browsing allocation and free chatting through popular apps such as Line, WeChat, KakaoTalk and Whatsapp for an entire day.

It is also in 2013 that Smart, its sister company Sun Cellular and one of its subsidiaries Voyager Innovations forged a pioneering partnership with Waze, a crowdsourced mobile navigation tool. For as low as P2, Smart and Sun users are able to use the app for three hours, with other data packages for one day (P5), seven days (P30) and 30 days (P299) also available.

Playing the OTT game
But Smart’s OTT play doesn’t only revolve around partnerships with existing players. This year, the country’s largest telco forged a broad and unprecedented alliance with the country’s top record labels resulting in SPINNR, Smart Music’s digital music catalog and streaming service available as an online utility and a mobile app.

Launched in the last quarter of 2013, SPINNR offers convenient digital music downloads even without a credit card. Since launch, Smart Music and SPINNR have garnered more than 1 million unique views on the portal within just six months of operations.

"Much like our call and text services, these apps enhance the lives of many Filipinos in a number of remarkable ways—from simply connecting loved ones to providing avenues for fun and entertainment. Smart is committed to bringing affordable and innovative offers that leverage on these up and coming services as we fully embrace the oncoming ‘digital tsunami’ in the next few years,” Lim added.

Source: Smart Communications

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