This post has a bit of a personal angel as I used to work with the mobile solutions company known as Oplayo. Australian based company SliceWireless purchased Oplayo from Nokia Siemens near the end of 2005. Oplayo’s core business is threefold; rich media content delivery and tracking platform, content aggregation and building JAVA apps for mobile.
The company brought me in to source entertainment-based clients to utilize its portfolio of service offerings. The company has some large clients including Disney, Telefonica (Czech), T-Mobile (Czech), Eurotel, SMART (Philippines), Globe (Nigeria) amongst many others.
What drew me to the company was its platform and the fact it was meant to ensure digital content retailers whether they be mobile or online were transparent and paid on all content sales. How they did is by the fact the raw digital asset was never handed over to aggregators or end digital content retailers. Instead, it stayed in the platform, which was interfaced with key digital content retailers. Every-time a purchase request from one of these retailers came through the content was taken from our/client servers and delivered back down the via the retailers’ portal to the consumer.
I was assured that their system “does not lie”. One would think that this would be so considering every-time a purchase transaction occurred it came from our servers or that of which Oplayo had white-labelled for a client. Oplayo even has deals in place stating that if the operator sales report differed from that of Oplayo’s sales report by more than 5%, Oplayo’s report would be the one that the operator would pay on.
Now we get to the interesting bit. In May 2008 I finalized a deal with UK mobile music content aggregator Indie Mobile. The deal was to place Indie Mobile’s content within the first FTM download store in the Philippines with tier one operator SMART. Problems were experienced with SMART at that time due to the fact they were delivering content but not actually billing end users for the content. By mid-June it was confirmed by SMART that the problem had been fixed.
Come August when Oplayo fully launched the previously stated FTM download store in collaboration with SMART. Sales according to the Oplayo platform of Indie Mobile content increased from over 12000 in August to over 23000 sales in the month of October. Yet when Indie – Mobile chased Oplayo for payment, Oplayo stonewall for a number of Months. Drilling down I discover the CFO of Slice Wireless Rick Correll, which owns Oplayo is negotiating with SMART regarding payment. Apparently, SMART is disputing the Oplayo sales report and only willing to pay 20% of the amount owning and way overdue.
SMART has claimed that due to it implementing a new billing system it is not liable for all of the sales in the Oplayo report. Notwithstanding I myself do know the Oplayo system is full-proof and have evidence that SMART had rectified they problem of non-billing its customers back in June 2008.
What is the point you may ask? It is this. Firstly, that the operator SMART is dodgy and not to be trusted by Western content owners. Firstly, the payment deal concluded by Oplayo with Indie Mobile was 30 days as that is what they have contractually with content owners whom they aggregate on behalf off. Secondly, a 30-day payment deal was negotiated and made extremely clear to SMART by myself before commencement of the FTM download store going live. SMART was already in breach of this clause before it even got to the current ridiculous state.
However, the key issue here is how and why did Oplayo let it go this long without firstly checking everything was fine little own not billing SMART for the said sales periods until late December 2008. In my mind it is clearly incompetence on a phenomenal scale. Since this debacle I have been involved chasing up sales reports on Indie- Mobiles behalf as Oplayo clearly has no client service team whatsoever.
The moral of this story is as follows: no matter if a technology is supposedly full-proof even when you have the ability to cut off content feeds to front end stores upon non-payment (which Oplayo continually use in their sales pitches), it comes down to whether the technology company actually has a client services team to ensure easily rectifiable problems are not left to fester. When left to fester on such a scale as this, it depicts absolute corporate pathetic ness in terms of bringing a dishonest partner to book on the part of Oplayo as well as its own internal corporate incompetence, and this is despite having technology that “does not lie”.
To date I myself had not witnessed such a cock-up and wish to take back any complementary comments I made to both current and prospective clients in terms of Oplayo. If I were a content owner from any content category, I would avoid Oplayo with a 100-foot pole. Quite simply they have technology but they do not have the internal resources or actual willingness to deliver a service little own payment. As such my recommendation is to give Oplayo and any of its associated companies a very wide berth.