Twitter is expanding outside of its home market and into the rest of the world. It not only wants to break through developing markets, but to also target third parties in mature markets.
The social networking company has inked deals far away from its comfort zone. And late last week, it signed a partnership with a Swedish startup service provider to gain traction in India.
Truecaller has teamed up with Twitter to give the latter access to its reverse-lookup phone directory, a list accessible through mobile apps. It allows users in India to look for people on Twitter through their phone numbers. Once they find the person, users can follow and tweet him or her through Truecaller’s app. But the startup has yet to allow users to view full timelines or to enable comments on other people’s tweets.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Truecaller cofounder and CEO Alan Mamedi said this tie-up is the first of its kind for Twitter. Though he did not reveal financial details about the deal, he said Dick Costolo helped make the partnership possible.
Truecaller is a well-established name in this Asian market. It has an overall adoption rate of a million users every week, half of this figure coming from India – for a total of more than 22 million users in the country.
Lately, Twitter has been finicky with whom it wants to integrate its API. But it will allow Truecaller to use it on the startup’s free Android app, with a plan for an iOS release next year.
Mamedi said that Truecaller 4.0 for iPhone will roll out in the next few weeks, and early 2014 on BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone devices.
Truecaller is on most Java-enabled phones and has launched an SMS app. And like Twitter, the company wants to explore the use of USSD technology.
Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are increasingly targeting users living in emerging markets. They use creative ways to fit together tightly with trends among local consumers in these areas. People in these markets increasingly use smartphones, have better wireless data connections, and see more reasonable deals from local mobile carriers. As a result, they increasingly avail of smartphones and wireless connectivity.
Twitter wants to engrain its business in India. To show its commitment, the company has bolstered its presence in the market. And TechCrunch’s sources say it may be working on an acquisition.
In terms of mobile messaging, India is a better fit for Twitter than Facebook. With most of the country still relying on 2G mobile technology, consumers still use SMS as the primary means for communication. And Twitter, like SMS’s standard of 160-character per message, has its 140-character limit in place.
India has a huge market of 800 million mobile users speaking different languages. But like most multilingual countries, English – Twitter’s native tongue – becomes a unifying, common language.
The Truecaller deal allows Twitter to tap into a well-established service in India, a country wherein directories and caller IDs are not inevitably perfect or complete.
Truecaller collects and combines existing directories through deals with white pages companies. And then it matches that data with data from its app’s users. It includes access to the user’s address book an opt-out option from the list.
Twitter API integration provides another reason to use the Truecaller app. Mamedi said most of its users use the app for caller ID and data from Twitter will help improve it.