Virgin Mobile launches in India


Virgin Mobile launched new services in India Sunday, targeting the youth market in one of the world’s fastest growing regions, the company said.


Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson said the British company would offer music, entertainment and news on India’s film industry, sports and stock markets to about 400 million young Indians in the 15 to 30-year-old age group.


The British billionaire said his company would launch Virgin Mobile handset services through Tata Teleservices, a top Indian mobile operator, in 50 cities initially, expanding to more than 1,000 cities by December.


“India looks very, very promising. We need only a small percentage of the market to do well,” Branson told reporters at a news conference.


Branson said the size of India’s youth market was staggering.


“It’s six times the size of the UK’s population and we are bound to have lots of fun here,” he said.


Branson did not divulge financial details, but said he hoped to attract a customer base of 5 million subscribers and become profitable within three years, offering special value-added Virgin Mobile branded services and handsets ranging from $50 to $125 (Dh138.5 to Dh458.75).


India is a key mobile phone market, adding more than 6 million new connections every month with its economy growing at more than eight per cent annually.


Tata’s mobile network operates in 5,000 Indian cities and towns.


Tata Teleservices, a subsidiary of one of India’s most famous conglomerates, the Tata Group, has operations ranging from software, automobiles, hotels and retail.


Ratan Tata, the group chairman, said his company decided on a franchise operation with Virgin Mobile as part of an initiative to bring freshness and innovation to young subscribers in India.


“Richard is known for his vigour, youthful approach and fresh approach to marketing,” Tata said in a televised message.


Branson’s other interests in India include Virgin Atlantic Airways, which operates daily flights connecting London with Mumbai and New Delhi. (AP)