Twitter has agreed to acquire Bangladore-based startup ZipDial, a company that offers a kind of mobile marketing platform suited to the emerging Indian market.
In announcing the deal on Tuesday, Twitter did not disclose the terms of the acquisition, but according to The Economic Times of India, the company is shelling out around $30 million for the startup.
Among the giants of the internet, the deal is just the latest in the string of acquisitions that aim to secure new footholds in the developing world. Most notably, Facebook and Google are already pushing into India, with Facebook acquiring one of the area’s most popular online services, WhatsApp. And now Twitter is following suit.
“This acquisition significantly increases our investment in India, one of the countries where we’re seeing great growth, and also brings us a new engineering office in Bangalore,” Twitter’s VP of Product Christian Oestlien wrote in a blog post revealing the deal.
Today, 77 percent of Twitter’s 284 million monthly active users are outside the US, and the company has struggled to both expand its user base and improve user engagement. In the last quarter, Twitter’s active users grew just 4.8 percent. The ZipDial acquisition, if properly leveraged, could help the company reach a whole new group of users.
In places like India and Africa, internet users often have rather different mobile practices than we’re used to here in the US. A large percentage of people in these developing regions own feature phones, which depend on slow cellular networks, and users are often charged for data by the megabyte—making them extremely cautious about how much data they send and receive.
In order to get around this limitation, services like ZipDial let its users use missed calls to receive certain services without incurring charges on their wireless data plans. In much the same way that a user might call a friend or family member then immediately hang up in order to get their attention, ZipDial users can use the service to call up companies to send them a signal that they would like to receive certain information or services, like cricket scores, a coupon, or some other product offering.
Along the same lines, Facebook is exploring advertising in India based on missed calls.
What’s more, Twitter and ZipDial have already worked together in the past, including running joint campaigns for MTV, Bollywood film promotions and even the Indian elections. So the company’s official acquisition of ZipDial, it seems, just formalizes what’s already proven to be a tried-and-true collaboration for Twitter.
www.wired.com – 2015-01-21 09:01:20