Vodafone Idea will not create digital assets; to continue with the partnership model
Vodafone Idea said it will not build out its own digital assets, but will continue with the partnership model, in which the various services offered by digital players are deeply integrated into its Vi platform. Tactics completely different from rivals Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, which has created a large number of digital assets of its own, which can be availed by customers of other telecom operators as well.
According to Ravinder Takkar, CEO and MD, Vodafone Idea, the company looks at digital in a way that may be slightly different from other players. “We have a lot of digital players in the country who are good at building various services. If I intend to compete with them, there is distrust. To us, it is very clear that we don’t want to be in their business, they are good at their business and we are good at our business. So, there is an opportunity for us to partner with each other and complement each other,” Takkar told FE.
In contrast, Reliance Jio has developed many digital assets in-house such as Jio TV, Jio Cinema and Jio Saavn, while Jio Platforms has invested in several start-ups. According to analysts, the digital assets of Jio Platforms are worth billions of dollars. Similarly, Bharti Airtel has also developed several digital assets including apps like Xtreme and Mitra, SaaS platform Airtel IQ, Airtel Market Place and its ed-tech platform. Airtel expects to generate multi-billion dollar revenue in the coming few years from its digital offerings in the areas of cloud, cyber security, data center, seapass etc.
Takkar said the company adopted the partnership model a year ago and has started seeing results. “I have a base of 245 million customers, a certain number of them use digital services, many of them don’t. So, I want to introduce them to digital services to create viscosity. It allows for a work environment for us where I’m able to integrate their (digital player) applications deeper into my network than I was competing with them,” he said.
For example, the company has partnered with start-ups like Apna, Enguru and Pariksha to provide employment and skilling opportunities to its customers. It has partnered for online gaming Nazra Technologies, Its ed-tech platform Vi Ad is built in partnership with TorcAi.
The company is betting on the partnership to increase its average revenue per user (ARPU) as the firm has not been able to meet the capex expenditure of rivals Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.