French mobile instant messaging company Miyowa announced a second round of funding today, to the tune of of $8 million, bringing its total financing to date up to $12.7 million. The company has flown largely under the radar in America, but it plans to use this shot in the arm to change all that and bring its messaging platform to the US as well as Asia.
Miyowa, like competitor OZ Communications, offers carriers white-label mobile instant messaging, but Sergio De Acha, the SVP of Business Development for the Americas Region, is quick to try to differentiate the two. “Our protocol allows for Web 2.0 functionality. We offer users avatars, file sharing, everything they expect, but on mobile,” he says.
Because Miyowa is white-label, carriers can rebrand the messaging program to suit their own ends. This increases brand loyalty among consumers as it turns the carrier itself into something more than a dumb pipe for data.
De Acha says the company was one of the first to combine mobile instant messaging and advertising, striking deals with two major brands he wouldn’t state publicly.
Another selling point, the company says, is that its users get more seamless mobile instant messaging integrated in with their phones, as they don’t have to sign up for yet another service.
Miyowa also offers detailed metrics from its backend to carriers, allowing carriers themselves to entice advertisers by showing exactly who is using their instant messaging services.
The company currently takes in revenue through licensing its technology, and by getting a slice of the monthly fees users pay to user their instant messaging technology. De Acha says the company is also in the initial stages of working out a revenue sharing plan with mobile advertisers.
Miyowa’s expansion into the US raises some questions, however. It’s unclear whether Miyowa will be able expand as an on-deck application, “which is obviously the Holy Grail of mobile applications,” says de Acha. He sounded confident they would be able to strike a deal with a major US carrier by 2009. If that’s not possible, however, Miyowa will have to function as an off-deck application, which means they’ll be put into direct competition with already existing applications like Mig33 or AIM Mobile.
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