AMONG the many groups handing out pamphlets in Perth’s city malls is a group of young people, brightly dressed in red polo shirts, offering free pre-paid mobile phone cards.
The cards are a free trial to a system called ‘x-txt’ and the first stage of a marketing campaign by Steven Goh’s new company, Project Goth.
Launched last weekend, Project Goth is a mobile phone business venture designed to tap in to the lucrative youth market by targeting teenage mobile phone users and their prolific use of SMS text messaging.
Project Goth, which took its name from The Sims computer game, aims to undercut the major mobile phone carriers by offering a significantly cheaper service.
The system works on a pre-paid basis and can be installed on low cost, java-enabled mobile phones in the $250 price bracket.
For around $2 per week, users of the system download and install a java-based instant messaging application in a similar way to downloading and installing a new ring tone or game.
Customers then buy a $10, $20 or $50 pre-paid card from an outlet such as a newsagent. A code printed on the card is entered into the user’s mobile phone to activate the system.
Customers can also send a text message to non x-txt users for 10 cents a text – less than half the cost of an average text message of about 27 cents a text.
Another Perth-based company, Global Dial, has partnered with Project Goth to distribute the phone cards through its existing distribution network.
The financials of the venture, according to Mr Goh, should prove very lucrative, with a potential global market estimated in the billions of dollars.
“The reality is that kids are spending too much on their mobiles,” Mr Goh said. “We are aiming for the mainstream market, which is the 16-year-old kids messaging each other around eight times per day.”
He said Project Goth’s market research estimated there were about one billion users worldwide using GSM mobile phones, and that 290 million of these could be using the x-txt system by mid year.
“In Australia we think that the market could be between one and three million,” Mr Goh said.
“The system is designed to scale to tens of millions of users, all paying $2 per week.
“There are many markets around the world that we can take this.
“We are starting in Perth – watch this space.”
Mr Goh said the system had undergone alpha testing in Australia, Europe and Asia.
He said Project Goth had filed a technology patent with its inherent value lying with the real time, mass market appeal of the system and server technology.
“The value in this is not so much in the java application but in the server technology,” Mr Goh said.
“What is unique is what happens between the java application and the server.
“The value of patent is that it is for cheaper phones … to provide a real time experience for the mass market.”
Mr Goh founded Perth-based online broking company Sanford, which he headed until a successful takeover from Melbourne financial data group IWL.
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