Acquisition In Europe
IMI Mobile is in advanced stages of talks for an acquisition in Europe, VR Vishwanath, Chairman and CEO of the company told MediaNama. The size of the deal is expected to be around $10 million, and IMI is looking at it as a means to enter the European market. “Technology acquisitions are out of question for us – we don’t look at those. Market entry and customer base…that works for us”
The acquisition will be funded through internal accruals and equity; IMI Mobile is not looking to raise money to fund the acquisition.
Vishwanath sees Europe and US as two key markets, apart from India, for Ad-Ring, a mobile advertising platform that the company has developed, for ads across SMS, WAP Portal, SMS, RingBack Tones, Videos and CRBT. “No one has gotten the mobile advertising game quite right so far – most are just looking at it as an extension of advertising in the online world – based on content. That is not right. On mobile, it is possible to track usage patterns via multiple channels. But you must have an advanced content management system which is able to unify voice, video and data. We’ve created access channels and integrated with operator billing records, usage history, and check usage patterns on the fly.”
Frankly, this product sounds remarkably similar to Morpheus, a platform that OnMobile has showcased at a conference once, but Vishwanath would not be drawn into a comparison with specific VAS companies, despite our repeated questions, particularly on AdRBT. These platforms use operator data, and I don’t see why other VAS companies cannot leverage the same data. On issues around privacy of data, Vishwanath said the data belongs to the operator, and it’s a regulatory issue.
On Caller Ringback Tone plans and Revenues –
Caller Ringback Tone (CRBT)
IMI Mobile is also going to launch their CRBT platform with an operator in Latin America within three-four months. The company claims to have a 15 percent marketshare in the CRBT space, despite deployment only with three operators – BSNL (North Zone only), Aircel (9 Circles) and Rainbow (Shyam Telelink, operates in Rajasthan), and not larger operators like Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance. They also have deployments in Sri Lanka with Mobitel, in Africa with Tigo.
Vishwanath said that Ad-Ring will contribute 20 percent to the revenues within two years. He declined to comment on current revenues, but said they’re targeting $60 million revenues within two years; Current revenue breakup – 60 percent from Voice and CRBT, 40 percent from data. He expects the data segment to keep growing. The company has no plans for an IPO at least for the next one year.
Note: Business Standard had reported on IMI Mobile’s acquisition plans. We followed up for clarifications.