Maktoob Develops a Startpage, Social Network and a Portal for Saudi Telecom (ST)

31 Aug, 2008

Update: Bellow

Saudi telecom (ST) new internet brand is called M3com (with you) (Arabic link) was developed by Maktoob Group out sourcing unit.

M3com is fully in Arabic and has a custom startpage, a social network called As7ab ( friends), and a bunch of other channels: News, Islam, sports, Saudi succor, yellow pages, photo sharing, video sharing, forums, Q&A, messaging, travel and tourism, education, jocks, and Saudi stock market.

m3com mypage

The startpage (Arabic link) is one of the most advanced Arabic startpage available in the market today. Where the user can chose a bunch of readymade content like: M3com channels and other tools such as: Gmail, flicker, youtube, facebook, tasks, and weather. Plus the ability to customize the page look and feel with colors and from Islamic and other types of photos including a photo for the current Saudi King. The user can also add any content that has an RSS feed, and arrange them with drag and drop. Similar to Netvibes but you cannot have more than one page.

The startpage was available on alpha version on http://afaqi.m3com.com.sa, It took Maktoob team around 2 to 3 weeks to develop the alpha version.

m3com as7ab

As7ab (Arabic link) the Social network has profiles, groups, photos and videos sharing, and networks; its look and feel is very similar to Maktoob’s own social network “As7ab.”

m3com travel channel

I personally liked the travel channel (Arabic link) which is a mix of admin and user generate content of: Travel stories, videos, photos, and counties information. I also liked the cool localized avatars the site offers.

m3com avatars’
Most of the content in all M3com channels are user generated, and is open to the public, but some features such as messaging: SMS and MMS (soon), and education are only open to ST’s DSL subsidiary Afaqi’s subscribers.

M3com is in beta mood now, which explains the many links not working messages I got while testing the site.

This move by ST is similar to partnerships US based ISPs had with leading portals, but implemented in different approaches. With m3com launch, STs is attempting to build a longer relationship with it subscribers’ base, and to lure others to join, plus it would open a new revenue opportunity from selling ads on the network. Specially that m3com will be the starting point for its Afaqi ADSL customers which Ajabni ( Arabic link) estimated it to be around 1 million by the end of this year.

Ajabni ( Arabic link) also reported that the whole portal was developed in one year at the costs of 20 million Saudi Riyals (SAR) around 5,332,764.5051 USD (1 USD = 3.7504 SAR). Which is an excellent revenue for Maktoob group, considering a profit margin I estimate of around 95%. But this portal clashes with its current portal maktoob.com since all M3com offerings are identical to part of what Maktoob.com has, but I guess they do not care as long they get 5,300.000 million plus USD in development fees!

Maktoob is also working with other regional telecom operators to develop similar portals and online services.

Update: Samih Toukan the CEO of Maktoob, told AC that M3com contract fees of 5 million USD plus paid by ST, are not accurate. He declined to disclose the right number.

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  1. tambi  |  August 31st, 2008 at 2:35 PM #

    5,000,000?

    Wow. Now that’s some serious money.

    Good job Maktoob developers

  2. Ahmad  |  August 31st, 2008 at 9:04 PM #

    Funny, YouTube which was sold to Google does not cost that much during developing phase. HEHEHE

  3. Not the only Arabic web startpage player: Google launched Ramadan Gadgets for iGoogle, Does Google understand Islam? | ArabCrunch  |  September 11th, 2008 at 4:06 AM #

    [...] is not the only one who is offering an Arabic internet start page, AC reviewed here few days ago Saudi Telecom’s (ST) m3com  startpage which was developed by matkoob’s  out [...]

  4. samer  |  September 26th, 2008 at 1:14 PM #

    Wow, good revenue for maktoob, But what a rip for STC!. The actual revenue numbers are 1.5M I believe.

    It seems maktoob would do anything for short term revenue, even shooting itself in the foot in the business model. They appear to have no spine.

  5. Mrs. Jannet Godwin.  |  January 5th, 2009 at 3:28 PM #

    Dear Sir, My name is Mrs.Jannet Godwin a South African woman who leaves here in London.I write to introduce you to my family trade. My husband was a well-known businessman, who deals in precious stones.Unfortunately, he died few years ago.Before his desmise, he has joint associates here in London. Note that my late husband usually buy the precious stones from Saudi Arabia and then sell to his/their customers.Things changed immediately my husband died, His associates here in London no longer gives us our due share of the business. One my late husband London based personal customer has now instructed me to supply him with large quantity of stone, After discusing it with my late husband lawyer , the lawyer after considering the unfair compension from my late husband associates,he instructed me to look for a capable businessman who will handle the transaction honestly Frankly I am financial incapability, This is more reason our lawyer instructed that I should look for a capable investor.In the light of the above,I contact you to partake in this business as the supplier,all I need from you is to agree to buy from the seller and supply to the buyer as follows::- 1. You will buy from the source in Saudi Arabia at the rate of $200 per gram and sell to the buyer at $350 per gram of each precious stone. From this price, you can see that the net profit is $150 per gramme.2,From this net profit, you will give me $50 per gram as the person who own the business contacts of both where to buy and where to sell, while you will take $100 for your investment profit per gram.3,The Principal (buyer) want to buy about 15,000 grammes of any of the below listed precious stones.1, GANET 2, SAPPHIRE 3. PMERALD 4, AQUAPRYL 5,TOURMALINE 6. TOPAZ 7. PETROPANY.If you agree with my conditions, you can then get back to me so that I can link you up with the buyer and the seller to enable us conclude everything sucessfuly.Please bear in mind that this is a genuine business trade that will last for life. This business will be done in a very transparent way and in line with the rules of international trade.N/B: My lawyer will be communicating you after my agreement with you. He is in control of our personal transactions.I await for your positive reply.Best regards,Mrs.Jannet Godwin.

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