Twitter said this evening that it has bought Indian mobile platform developer ZipDial. The move could bring Twitter many more users, and, it hopes, a lot of new advertising revenue.
In a blog post, Twitter said that it hopes the acquisition will help it make its service more accessible to people all over the world, particularly in large developing nations.
“Over the next several years, billions of people will come online for the first time in countries like Brazil, India, and Indonesia,” Twitter wrote. “For many, their first online experience will be on a mobile device – but the cost of data may prevent them from experiencing the true power of the Internet. Twitter, in partnership with ZipDial, can make great content more accessible to everyone.”
By adding a platform partner in India, and presumably gaining access to many more users there, Twitter is clearly hoping to significantly boost advertising revenue, something it must do as investors have worried it is not growing fast enough. Twitter’s stock — which was at $37.31 as of this writing — has fluctuated wildly over the last year, largely due to signals about the social network’s ability to add new users, and increase revenue.
ZipDial’s platform was designed to allow users to interact with content, regardless of the interface. Twitter said ZipDial’s user experience “combines SMS, voice, mobile Web, and access to mobile apps to bridge users from offline to online.”
As an example, Twitter’s blog post explained, ZipDial users can engage with publishers or brands by doing what’s called a “missed call,” calling a toll-free phone number, which will then automatically generate return calls, messages, or notifications through their phone. Though that may sound beyond annoying to American users, “these interactions are especially appealing in areas where people aren’t always connected to data or only access data through intermittent wifi networks,” Twitter said.
The company didn’t disclose the terms of the acquisition, but said that it had collaborated with ZipDial on numerous campaigns over the last couple of years. Those included Bollywood film promotions, Indian national elections, and get-out-the-vote efforts in the South Asian nation. Twitter clearly hopes to gain new users in the world’s second-most populous country by taking advantage of the way people there use ZipDial on their phones to access everything from cricket scores, to tweets from movie stars, to audio content, and more.
ZipDial has another similarity to Twitter: It is used by plenty of public personalities. “Leading figures, including actors, politicians and athletes, [use ZipDial] to instantly reach millions of citizens on Twitter through text and voice messages,” Twitter said. “By coming together with ZipDial, we’ll help more people around the world enjoy great and relevant Twitter experiences on their mobile phones.”
According to a report from GMSA Intelligence, 405 million Indians — or 32 percent of the country’s 1.26 billion citizens — have mobile phones.
Twitter said that with the acquisition, it adds a new engineering office in Bangalore, India.
ZipDial said in its own post that its investors had included Blume Ventures, AngelPrime, YourNest Ventures, Mumbai Angels, Jungle Ventures, Unilazer Ventures, and 500 Startups.