Mobile e-literature, Sugar Mama, Stash: Virgin Does it All

Okay, so I’m on vacation and not spending much time on the Net. That would explain the increased number of WSJ-sourced posts. Anyway, WSJ reports on yet another way to drive SMS traffic, this time through content especially created for the carrier.

In the past week, about 10,000 people have read the first line of a new novella called “Ghost Town,” about a homeless teenager: “‘U always come out of nowhere,’ Brad the quarterback laughed.”

So begins a story that’s being dubbed a “text novella.” Wireless company Virgin Mobile is beaming it to the cellphones of users who sign up, sending the story in 160-character installments through two text messages a day for five weeks.

Virgin Mobile has been suffering under the weight of debt raised to pay off their investors. Apparently, when pushed against the wall, the MVNO has gotten creative. They recently released Sugar Mama (watch ads, answer questions, get “free” airtime) and the Stash prepaid Visa card.

The novella-through-SMS is another neat idea, more of a PR stunt combined with a way to differentiate their offering to the base & get some lock-in (some emotional cost to leaving before the end) as opposed to a way to make lots of money.

However, one can imagine how this scales with a larger audience and more content. The mobile e-lit idea is no different from made-for-mobile movies. The interesting question is who will create the content. Will it be individuals, contracting with the carriers & MVNOs or will a number of aggregators emerge.

Source: WSJ.com – Mobile: E-Lit

About Simeon Simeonov

I'm an entrepreneur, hacker, angel investor and reformed VC. I am currently Founder & CTO of Swoop, a search advertising platform. Through FastIgnite I invest in and work with a few great startups to get more done with less. Learn more, follow @simeons on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn.
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One Response to Mobile e-literature, Sugar Mama, Stash: Virgin Does it All

  1. Pingback: Madison Avenue Subsidizing Mobile « HighContrast

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