The buzz in messaging

The buzz in messaging

By | July 16th, 2012
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We spoke to Lars Hoogweg, CTO, Nimbuzz and sought to understand its

strategy, its recent shift to India, and the vast array of development

platforms available today.


														               
							 	 						

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As more mobiles are including social features out of the box, and as these features become part of the platform itself, what role do you see Nimbuzz playing?

Nimbuzz is an ecosystem, which has few parallels in terms of the wide range of options offered to its users. Nimbuzz, as an entity, has created a niche of its own. So while specific functions such as texting and video-calling may have competition from players in that field, the entire bouquet of possibilities that Nimbuzz offers to its users is what has helped Nimbuzz maintain its edge, especially with the newly launched Nimbuzz Chat buddies. We believe that social features are gradually becoming a commodity in the mobile communication landscape. Nimbuzz aims to focus on real-time communication aspects, packaged with information ready for the users on all their basic needs.

How different is Nimbuzz from other popular apps such as WhatsApp, Fring or Samsung’s ChatON that also supports multiple platforms?

Nimbuzz, in a nutshell, is mobile freedom to communicate! Nimbuzz combines the powers of the Internet and mobile communications into one, and the only platform that allows users to make video calls, send messages, voice calls, video-chatting, and share files, on practically any mobile device, for free.

When a user downloads the Nimbuzz application, using his/her Nimbuzz account, he/she can chat or call with his/her Facebook friends, Gmail contacts, Yahoo! contacts and even with those that aren’t on Nimbuzz yet.

When it comes to other IM applications, we are far ahead in terms of user base and also in product aspects and user interface. We believe in bringing more values to the users and that’s why we have opened our APIs for developers. We are now delivering communication and information on the same platform; you will not find another applications to provide such multi-module aspects.

I would like to conclude by saying that Nimbuzz is the benchmark for mobile communication, and not just a replacement of SMS.

Nimbuzz currently does not support Windows Phone. Do you see support for it on the horizon?

We focus on every platform, which drives the communication needs of the users. We are introducing our first release for the Windows platform shortly.

Do you have any plans to expand to new platforms? How about a mobile web client that can be used on any mobile device?

We are following the latest web developments closely. At the moment mobile web does not offer some of the native capabilities that we need e.g. VoIP. We are adding more web content in our clients to drive e.g. our NWorld portal. This allows us more flexibility and increases our speed to market. We do not need to release a new client if we want to change some existing module.

Is it worthwhile to focus on native application development or is cross platform development tools more rewarding to a developer?

The native app developers get better performance and integration, while the cross platform development gets broader reach and better standardization. We are present in both the categories and we believe in their strengths and working towards minimizing the weaknesses.

What are the monetization opportunities that you see in the Indian context for Nimbuzz?

Nimbuzz has introduced a new paradigm of advertising. Providing advertisers need an effective medium to invest their marketing spends in a cost effective and more impactful manner and that’s how the company has introduced hyper-local targeted ads (HLTA) for the first time on mobile platform across the globe.

Nimbuzz has opened up its Messenger API with launch of Chat Buddy Developer Program (CBDP) recently. This initiative is expected to help brands, publishers, and independent developers get access to the 95 million Nimbuzz users across 200+ countries. The CBDP allows developers to build chat buddies across various verticals such as Cricket, Astrology, Shopping, Games, News, besides utilities such as Ticketing, Movie reviews, Classifieds, etc. and these would allow developers to create a economy on the mobile communication platform with an existing reach of 95 million + users and which will only increase in the future.

In addition to these Chat Buddies, NWorld is also a store front for Social Games, Virtual Gifts, and Avatars and Nimbuzz is expecting a decent share of revenue by selling Virtual gifts. Besides this, VoIP remains one of the key revenue drivers for Nimbuzz.

We understand that you recently shifted your headquarters to India. What is the rationale behind this move?

With the Internet boom in the mobility space expected to happen in India in the next 5 years, it was a strategic development from Nimbuzz to shift its global operations to India. India, being an Internet loving country, has played a pivotal role behind Nimbuzz’s success, which was achieved in a span of 5 years. Nimbuzz is present in every country that appears on a global map and the focus would be to grow in these markets, with the operations driven out of India.

What are the pros and cons of having your development centre out of India?

Having a development center based out of India, helps in devising the best go-to-market strategy in the least possible time in front of a large audience. By this process we can easily understand what is working and what is not. Also, the rollback time and the connectivity to the market is the least.

What are the most lucrative smartphone platforms for a developer? Which platform in your opinion is seeing a downward trend?

We see a rapid growth of the Android platform. We foresee a trend where Android phones will replace the MIDP phones soon as the prices of Android phones are falling gradually. We foresee even opportunities across all the leading platforms but we think Apple is slightly ahead because of its advanced payment infrastructure which works for iPhone quite well.

iPhone is also the platform that sees most competition, bringing more challenges to the developer. I would like to focus on Android if I am working on a new app.

With platforms such as Windows Phone having basic guidelines for the interface, do you see it as an impediment/hurdle from a developer’s perspective, or does it serve good?

We believe it’s good from a user’s perspective. It keeps the experience clean. A developer always works for a pleasing user experience.

In terms of options available to the end user, there is absolutely no dearth of options. Given such a scenario, what is the factor that governs the successful adaption of an app in your opinion?

It’s the value that the app brings to the user in comparison to the amount of time a user invests on that time. We have realised it from our own experiences.

Around a year back, we realized that our users on Java platform are investing much less time in comparison to the smartphone owners. We analyzed the fact and found out that they are not in the continuous communication module, as they become offline after the idle communication period.

We introduced Nimbuzz Ping’ option for 400 million Symbian and Java users and with this we ensured feature phone users to enjoy the smartphone ‘push’ functionality. Nimbuzz Ping allows users appear online and available to their contacts even when the Nimbuzz app is closed. When one of their contacts wants to reach them, Nimbuzz Ping delivers a free SMS message to their home screens, prompting the user to log in to Nimbuzz and start a data session to communicate.

With the introduction of Nimbuzz Ping service on all operators, the company has observed an increase of 250% in user engagement in these platforms.

A developer always needs to understand the psychology of the users and technological strengths and weaknesses and the success is always there if he manages to align all these factors on the same platform.

What is the size of your team in India, and what are the tasks performed out of the India office?

We have team of more than 85 people based out of India ranging from operations, product development, Design, QA, Marketing, Monetization, to support.

What are your expectations from the Indian market? Are you optimistic or cautious regarding India as a market?

The coming years the amount of people with access to Internet in India will grow tremendously. Right now, we are already one of the biggest OTT communication players in the market. Our goal is to grow our market share even further.

We have gone beyond the communication module and we look forward to create a different mobile community on the Nimbuzz platform.

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Nash David
I’m fascinated by open web technologies, and its endless possibilities. I use Windows for work; want to switch to an Android smartphone, and get an iPad soon. Write to me at editor@devworx.in, or tweet: @nashpd.