Nimbuzz, the mobile messaging service headquartered in India, is taking another big step into the telecom space after it announced a partnership with LG. The deal will see its app pre-installed on the Korean phone-maker’s devices alongside 100 minutes of free international calls for all users.
Nimbuzz waded into calling last October, when it secured a license to offer paid-for call services in India, something that even Skype doesn’t have and can’t do there. The partnership will initially cover LG’s new mid-range L-Series smartphones in India, but it will expand to other LG devices, other phone-makers and other markets too, according to Nimbuzz CEO Vikas Saxena.
“In time, Nimbuzz will come bundled with almost all mid-range devices, but our partnership with LG will also cover higher and lower-priced devices,” Saxena told TNW in an interview.
“To begin with, with are looking at India, but we will go to other markets later. The Middle Eastern region will be next — as we have a strong user base there — but we will also roll the deal out in other areas in South Asia too,” he said.
As well as increasing the Nimbuzz user base, the deal is aimed at feeding an appetite for international calling via the service.
Unlike a lot of messaging apps, Nimbuzz isn’t revealing its active user numbers, but the company claims 150 million registered users worldwide.
Saxena says that India and the Middle East are the company’s biggest markets, and he claims that it sees 210,000 new registrations worldwide each day. That’s impressive but it leaves Nimbuzz some way behind WhatsApp, Facebook, WeChat, Line and others, though Saxena says the company’s real strength is the community it has established in India and the Middle East.
“The ugly reason for our growth is the calling corridor between India and the Middle East. The two regions have lots of connections but yet it remains so expensive to call, so we will continue to go deeper with this feature in the future.”
Nimbuzz offers a range of services — including games and marketing — but Saxena says that calling generates the highest level of engagement among users and the most revenue for the company.
Despite its success in India, Nimbuzz is almost certainly behind WhatsApp locally. The soon-to-be-Facebook-owned messaging app has 48 million active users in India, having almost doubled its active user base in just five months.
Nimbuzz previously launched its own device with a hard-key last summer, but now it appears to be taking the pre-install route that has worked so well for WhatsApp.