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Digital content with extra Spice

Spice VAS Africa is changing its strategy for the South African marketplace, focusing on apps and mobi sites, rather than voice.

“In SA, the landscape is very different to the rest of Africa; voice is more expensive here but data is reasonably well priced and feature phones are more prevalent in this country,” said Spice VAS Africa CEO Arun Nager, during a roundtable event this week.

“High tech is great, but sometimes a low-tech solution can be more relevant to the market, as we have seen in much of Africa. In SA, the situation is different, so we need to tailor our product to suit each unique market.”

The company offers on-demand music and video streaming on mobile devices and has been in Africa for five years. SA is its newest market. According to the team from Spice, it has already signed deals with music labels EMI, Soul Candi and Universal, among others. In SA, it has earmarked gospel, house and pop as key focus genres. The company is working closely with these labels and with its religious partner organisations to provide a bespoke solution to consumers.

According to Nager, Spice is in talks with one of the major churches in SA to launch an app and a mobi site tailored specifically for it. These digital platforms will connect the church with its members and allow for content streaming by congregation members.

“Spice’s core business has been the technology platforms that disseminate the content to the consumer. Historically, this access has been through the networks,” says Nager, adding that the company views itself as a “content supermarket” moving forward. “Streaming video is something we want to launch in SA in the next quarter.”

Content aggregation is a focus for Spice in the South African marketplace and the company is in the process of signing a contract with one of the big network operators. Spice’s Music on Demand 360 digital streaming platform will be operational by the second quarter of 2013, with a subscription model costing R15 per week, including data.

Spice has achieved up to 25% penetration in some African markets but the landscape in SA is more competitive, something Nager views positively. According to Nager, this competition makes customers more aware of the content and of this kind of service, which good for the artists, labels and for Spice.

Spice is offering artists the opportunity to monetise their content on a digital platform. “It is really all about the content; what we did in Africa, we hope to replicate here in SA,” Nager concludes.

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