VEON App – A Missed Opportunity or is the Best yet to Come?

Last year marked a new era of reinvention and innovation for VimpleCom when it rebranded to VEON as part of its efforts to transform itself from just a simple telco to new age Digital Service Company. In accordance with its changing global strategy, it rolled out VEON App- an internet service platform focused primarily on content creation and dissemination. The service was initially launched in Italy and later in its other markets. The VEON application platform launched by Jazz also made a lot of buzz in Pakistan. It was sort of a big deal with 2.7 million downloads in less than 90 days.

VEON App- an internet service platform focused primarily on content creation and dissemination

Since, content plays the central role in how data is served and consumed, Jazz launched this application to engage more consumers to increase the data usage. The application aims to become a comprehensive infotainment and utility platform. It offers number of features i.e. it provides a repository of articles from news and media outlets, gives users the option to send and receive text messages to other VEON users and make and receive calls over the completely free packet data for Jazz users. Additionally, discount deals are also offered at various outlets and online stores.

The VEON application platform launched by Jazz made a lot of buzz in Pakistan with 2.7 million downloads in less than 90 days

The company plans to take the application to the next level by adding other features to become a full-scale internet content aggregator, collecting data content from across the internet based on its users’ specific interests and preferences.

The app is a very solid way to not only compete with OTT services like Whatsapp, Viber, Facebook, and others but also other online service platforms as well

The idea is to enable users to use this application as a one-stop content discovery platform where they can perform all online activities. A very solid way to not only compete with OTT services like Whatsapp, Viber, Facebook and others but also other online service platforms as well.

The hype that was created at the time of the launch was phenomenal, experts and analyst called it a transformative move that will change the telecom business once and for all. The company was applauded for its bold and far-sighted move and getting ahead of others to take on the two biggest challenges operators are facing today i-e stagnant growth despite massive investment, and growing competition from innovative internet giants with a global reach. But somehow till date things haven’t turned out as everyone expected.

Jazz being the largest mobile operator of the country had more significant chance of success for such kind of services. All they needed or perhaps still need is to work harder on the product and its marketing i.e. get the right product to the right customer in the right context and at the right time. Currently, there are number of glitches in the application platform that need to be fixed in order to achieve its full potential. In the current form, the application is a very basic that does not offer much value.

The number of publishers on board is quite limited while Channels are also not updated on regular basis which resulted in loss of customers’ interest

While, it is easier to use but there is no uniqueness or anything fancy that could make it stand out against the crowded app market. The number of publishers on board is quite limited while Channels are also not updated on regular basis which resulted in loss of customers’ interest. The app has to make these few fixes in order to improve the content availability.

In order to make the proposition look more attractive Veon’s free call and messaging option was also introduced. However, messaging is a notoriously difficult market to break into.

The company entered the market quite vigorously by spending millions of dollars on the launch

There are number of well-established and popular apps in the market; so making its presence felt requires more extensive work. By making the novel move of zero-rate access for users, the app managed to gain some traction among Jazz customers who are also offered free MBs but the users of other networks like Telenor, Zong and Ufone still have to pay for data packages to avail Veon services.

The in-app discount offers on various brands of apparels, food and online stores were an instant hit. This single feature played a major role in Veon’s instant popularity among users while, one does not see a lot of deals in the app now although a large portfolio of deals could really make a lot of difference.

Pakistan is among the fastest growing mobile markets of the world with 135 million millennials which means that almost two-third of the total population is under the age of 30. So, in a lucrative market like Pakistan, Veon’s ambitious steps are not without a reason. The company entered the market quite vigorously by spending millions of dollars on the launch with nationwide ad campaign, extensive promotions, partnerships with other high-end brands and most importantly, its remarkable launch ceremony in Lahore. But big launch events are highly over-rated; consumers don’t really care about the launch, unless you are Apple.

It would have been much better if Veon had started off with a clean app and well-connected users with the focus on one feature at a time

All that is needed is some initial core users who can be made happy few months down the line. It would have been much better if Veon had started off with a clean app and well-connected users with focus on one feature at a time.

 

As telecom revenues are shrinking and competition from OTTs is getting fiercer, So, overall Veon has made the right move and went straight for the kill. According to a research by McKinsey & Company, the OTTs share could be as high as 60% of messaging and 25% of voice revenues by just next year. So if OTTs are entering the core telco market with innovative models, it is only right for network operators to digitize their service models as well.

As telecom revenues are shrinking and competition from OTTs is getting fiercer, Veon has made the right move and went straight for the kill

The app idea does have a lot of potential. Consumers are more drawn to media and content if they find it easily and navigate through it a much simpler and quick way. Therefore, if the content is of high quality and appeals to users, they will eventually be convinced to pay for it and will also have the potential to generate money via adverts. Similarly, starting various online e-commerce services will also create great revenue generating opportunities.

If Veon manages to reach the level of personal internet platform that it initially envisioned, it will be able to attract number of mobile users from other networks as well. This way, not only their app users will grow but substantial increases in Jazz’s network users will also be made possible. Furthermore, Veon plans to include number of other features as well which includes integration of mobile wallet, which will allow 3 million active JazzCash users to shop, pay utility bills and make various other payments from within the app, something on the lines of Wechat, a Chinese home-grow OTT app.

WeChat not only gives the instant messaging, video calls, group chats and file sharing but its users can almost do anything online, without leaving the app.

If Veon manages to reach the level of personal internet platform that it initially envisioned, it will be able to attract the number of mobile users from other networks as well

They can play games, pay bills, read news, transfer money, order food online, arrange their foreign trips and buy movie tickets and much more. It is essentially the hub of all online activities in China, something that Veon also dreamt to become. To reach the level of WeChat,VEON should not rely on messaging and social media alone; it should provide a one stop for all kind of platform that really takes the cake.

 

Rizwana Khan

Dreamer by nature, Journalist by trade.
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