Nimbuzz's India focus is organic growth, acquisitions to follow

Mumbai: After shifting its main base to India from the Netherlands, Nimbuzz has decided to follow the organic growth path to settle down in the marketplace before it pursues acquisitions.

As a first step, the global mobile call and chat applications provider, which has raised $25 million in venture capital and strategic funding from Naspers and Mangrove Capital Partners, plans to expand its offerings in India to capitalise on the fast-growing mobile advertising business.

Says Nimbuzz head of operations Joby Babu, “Once the mobile advertising field starts posting steady growth rates, we may look at the inorganic route. Our focus now is the organic route and our methodologies for developing in India are working in our favour.”

The application developer has clear plans to launch more platforms over the next two to three months but has not frozen the ascending order of these service introductions in the country.

Says Babu, "We aim to become an integrated mobile application provider. Maybe, music will be next on the cards. Nothing can be said for sure, but we surely want to expand our portfolio.”

Founded by Evert Jaap Lugt in 2006, Nimbuzz has developed call and chat applications but does not have applications for services like music launched in India.

In order to foster growth in India, Nimbuzz has introduced applications and platform that have relevance and greater returns on investments for users as well as the advertisers.

“We have put in a lot of features and platform support to localise the kind of advertising support we have. The brands are really liking it and specially the creative agencies that work closely with the brands and this has kind of made us the default partner of choice for many brands when it comes to mobile advertising. The whole ecosystem of features is helping mobilise a lot of budgets in the mobile advertising field,” avers Babu.

One such feature introduced by Nimbuzz is the Hyper-local targeted ads (HLTA) which adds relevance to advertising. In this application, the user receives ads on the mobile according to the location. So if a user is walking into a mall, an advertisement will flash on his or her mobile giving information on a sale or a special offer at one of the shops. Some of the brands using this platform are KFC, Pizza Hut, some e-commerce portals and automobile brands like Mahindra XYLO.

Nimbuzz does not feel that it does not face any real competition in India as it offers multiple services and platforms under one umbrella. “Platforms like Whatssapp are our competitors in a way, but the advantage Nimbuzz has is that it has consolidated mobile services across chatting and social media,” he says.

Nimbuzz, which saw exponential growth in the past one year with its subscriber base more than doubling to 100 million, recently shifted its base to India from the Netherlands to be closer to Asia and the Middle East, its major markets that account for 61 per cent of its global subscribers.

The mobile advertising market in India is estimated to be of Rs 1 billion and is growing at approximately 50 per cent annually.

“India was doing very well for Nimbuzz and in order to get the best possible product for the market, it is important for it (the product) to be built there. The product managers need to understand what the users really love. We, thus, decided that product development and marketing will be operated out of India,” explains Babu.

Another reason for choosing India as the epicenter of its global operations is its convenient location to the fast growing markets.

“The geographies doing well for us include India and South East Asia, especially Indonesia, a little of Middle East and parts of Western Europe. So it is much easier for us to handle our business – product development and marketing – from here rather than from Europe. This puts India in the prime spot in the global operation,” says Babu.

The thrust on mobile advertising is increasing and this means growth opportunities for entities like Nimbuzz. The mobile advertising field is getting a fair share of the marketing pie with each passing campaign. The ratio of mobile advertising to the total advertising spends is also going up in the country, says Babu.

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