Chat app Nimbuzz, which has been around since 2006, recently won two categories in Opera Software’s 2012 Top Apps Awards – the communication category for Android, and the overall winner for Symbian OS. Vikas Saxena, the CEO of Nimbuzz (pictured right), shared the company’s plans for competing in the hot messaging apps market in Asia.
Similar to the other emerging chat apps like Line, KakaoTalk, and WeChat, Nimbuzz features messaging, voice, and video calling. The chat app is also an open platform which third party developers can utilize to build more apps such as games for Nimbuzz’s users. Nimbuzz however, also has integration with other online chat platforms such as Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook, and Windows Live Messenger.
Vikas pointed out that Nimbuzz was originally a Dutch company. He shifted its headquarters to India in mid-2011 to focus more on Asian markets. The company is funded by investment firm Mangrove Capital Partners and media group MIH. We asked Vikas about his future plans for Nimbuzz:
1. Do you have any particular plans for Asia?
Vikas: Since our inception, we have recognized that for Nimbuzz to be successful, we have to compete in the Asian markets. We currently have over 60 million users in Asia and it is our most rapidly growing region. Many of these users are in India and the Middle East region, and we will be aggressively pursuing market share in the far eastern Asian region in 2013. We currently allow our users to purchase avatars and gifts in our virtual store. We plan to continue and expand these services so our users can express themselves as creatively and freely as possible.
2. Can you share some data with us?
Vikas: [...] Today, approximately 60 percent of our over 100 million users are in Asia, 10 percent in Europe, 13 percent in Africa, and 7 percent in North America. In total, we have users in more than 200 countries. Our platform breakdown is as follows:
3. Do you have any plans for making the free call feature available to other OSes such as Blackberry and Windows Phone?
Vikas: We would love to integrate our free calling feature onto BlackBerry phones. However, RIM (the maker of BlackBerry devices) has not opened its API for app developers like us to provide call functionality. The free calling feature will be available for Windows Phone 8 soon. Currently these features are available on all other mobile operating systems.
4. What do you think makes Nimbuzz unique compared to other chat apps?
Vikas: What makes Nimbuzz unique is its versatility. Whereas other apps specialize in one service, Nimbuzz offers VoIP calling, messaging, video calling, chatting and a lot more. In addition, users can connect to another user’s unique Nimbuzz ID or to a phone number from their contact list on their desktop. Unlike other messaging only apps, with Nimbuzz you won’t lose your contacts if you lose your phone.
Additionally, in many regions that we focus on, Nimbuzz Credits for voice calls allow you to connect to anybody in the world, even those friends who are not on Nimbuzz.
The chat app earns revenue from ads, the virtual store, and international calling via its Skype-like “NimbuzzOut.” The company seems to be very proud of its customer behavior insight on mobile handsets, which can be used extensively to help make companies’ advertisements more effective on Nimbuzz. The virtual store lets users purchase avatars and virtual gifts. 30 percent of Nimbuzz customers, it claims, are making purchases there.
Nimbuzz is available on Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Symbian, J2ME, as well as Windows and Mac desktop computers. So, pretty much everywhere. Vikas mentioned that Nimbuzz is pre-installed on most Nokia Lumia and Nokia Asha mobile phones at the moment as well.
The company is doing very well on feature phone platforms like Symbian and Java, but Nimbuzz is still crawling its way up on smartphone platforms. With other emerging chat apps relying on its cute stickers and addictive games, Nimbuzz might need to come up with a strategy to recreate that fun  inside its app to convince more smartphone users to switch, or at least to start using Nimbuzz’s aforementioned online chat integration.
The Windows Phone version doesn’t have those. ↩