TELECOMS companies are introducing new technologies to boost their revenues and win customer loyalty with a series of new product announcements this week.
Virgin Mobile has become the first network in SA to offer its customers protection from cellphone viruses. While mobile viruses are still in their infancy, there have been a few attacks on sophisticated smartphones that run similar software to computers.
Virgin Mobile is working with Dubai-based company Lighthouse to offer Norton software that blocks bugs transmitted via e-mail, multimedia messages, downloads from memory cards or by Bluetooth or infrared connections.
Virgin Mobile customers could download the software for R15 a month and were the first in Africa to have access to this software, said CEO Peter Boyd.
In contrast, Vodacom has opted for a new service likely to appeal to most cellphone users, rather than the elite smartphone set.
Its offering will convert voice mail into text messages, so subscribers can read their messages instead of having to dial the voicemail service.
The move makes Vodacom the first operator in Africa to offer a voicemail to-text service, using technology from UK company SpinVox. SpinVox was founded by Christina Domecq when she received 14 voice mails that she could not access during a meeting.
Customers would find it a simple yet immensely valuable way of improving their daily communications, Domecq said.
The service works with English, French, German and Spanish messages, with no plans yet to adapt it to translate any of SA’s other languages.
Last week Vodacom also launched a system to deliver advertisements to its users. While customers may not actually want adverts on their handsets, they will receive text adverts when they receive a “Please Call Me” message, and banner adverts will run on Vodacom’s internet portals when users download mobile content such as music and wallpapers.
Vodacom was entering the media space under its strategy to evolve into a multimedia company, said its commercial executive director, Romeo Kumalo.
The value of diversification has been highlighted by BT, the British player that now enjoys its fastest growth for “new-wave services”. Those innovative broadband, broadcasting and advertising initiatives have grown 30% in the past two years.