Virgin Mobile targets India's booming youth market

Virgin Mobile is to enter the Indian market through a joint venture with indigenous operator Tata Teleservices. It will roll-out services in 50 cities initially, expanding to more than 1,000 cities by December, targeting the youth sector. According to an Associated Press report, Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder, chairman and billionaire, described the market of 400 million young Indians in the 15 to 30-year-old age group as 'staggering'. He added, 'It's six times the size of the UK's population and we are bound to have lots of fun here.'While Branson would not disclose any financial details, he said he hoped the Virgin brand would attract a customer base of 5 million and become profitable within three years. Part of the attraction will be services including music, entertainment and news on India's film industry, sports and stock markets, plus a range of 'value-added' handsets that will cost between €33/£25.3 and €82.3/£63.India is a key mobile phone market, adding more than 6 million new connections every month, and with its economy growing at more than 8% annually. Even so, the Vimore thargin Mobile brand has had problems outside its home market in the UK. Its joint effort with Singtel in Singapore, launched in 2001, lasted barely a year. Virgin expanded into the US mobile market in 2002, targeting the youth market, and has an American customer base of more than 5 million. It was floated on the New York Stock Exchange last November, but the shares have fared poorly in the tough economic climate. Virgin also offers mobile services through joint ventures in Australia, Canada, France and South Africa.