Mig33, a social network adapted to mobile phones, claims to have become popular amongst the youth in India after its tie ups with operators Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Aircel, and their recent partnerships with IPL teams. The company allows users to enter and participate in chat room discussions, upload photos, call or SMS friends through its interface.
Though its largest markets are Indonesia and South Africa, Steven Goh, CEO of Mig33, told MediaNama that plans for the upcoming year have a focus on India with the revival of its Hindi version. The company claims that thousands of Indian users join Mig33 every day and India is now one of their highest growth markets; they claim a global user base of 25 million users.
Mig33 launched Hindi and Bengali user interfaces alongside Russian and Simplified Chinese in March this year, but will now be relaunching the language packs for the community in an attempt to attract more Indian users.
New services and games adapted to Indian languages such as Bengali and Marathi are also in the pipeline. “A case in point would be the game Russian Roulette, which will be modified to appeal to Hindi and Bengali speaking users,” said Goh. “A dozen games and more will be modified similarly, added Mei Lin Ng, co-founder of Mig33.
Mobile Internet Usage In India; The Facebook Effect
Readers need to keep in mind that for accessing sites like Mig33, users require a GPRS connection, and the number of subscribers using GPRS in the country puts a cap on the usage of Mig33 and other applications. Goh puts the mobile Internet subscriber base in India at 15-25 million, but suggests that the market is at a turning point with handsets changing and platforms with better user interfaces. (Nikhil adds: I think Mig33s user base is going to largely be a function of its partnerships with telcos, media entities and Cricket franchises, which will in turn be a function of GPRS users.)
Social networking is leading to increased Mobile Internet usage in India: calling it the “Facebook effect”, Goh said that it has been phenomenal, making socialising through games like Mafia Wars and popular and leading to an increase in inter-social gaming on the net. It may be pertinent to remember that Mig33 is funded by the investors of Facebook (Accel Partners) and MySpace (RedPoint Ventures). Accel also backs Mippin, Kirusa, GetJar and ComScore.
Mig33 has now launched a dozen games such as Werewolf, Russian Roulette, Vampire, Rock Paper Scissors and Star Trivia. These games are different from Facebook games, however, in that they are not turn-based games but real-time, multiplayer, interactive games, Goh pointed out.
With turn-based games, one can play alone and do not need friends on the network joining the game, take Farmville for example. But Migg’s games require your contacts to play along at the same time: the company should also try to add a wider variety of games.
Most of these games on Mig33 are pay-and-play, requiring what are called migCredits. For them, the company is in the process of tying up with Indian m-commerce providers on the lines of its Trikomsel alliance in Indonesia. The company claims to be in “negotiations with other potential (non-operator) partners in India”, but declined to comment further.
Kreeda Games‘s CEO Quentin Staes-Polet recently told us he believes India is ready for microtransactions and in-game advertising, though we don’t think he would have said anything different two years ago.
(With inputs from Nikhil Pahwa)
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