Update: We spoke with Keshav Bajaj, VP-Business Development at Nimbuzz who informed that the move is inline with the company’s efforts to develop a recommendation engine, which would encourage users to upgrade their existing handset, after a specific time period, which would differ across handsets. He said that it will also help the company in monetizing its operations, since Nimbuzz IM being a free service does not offer a monetization method.
When asked about meeting expenditure on manpower and logistics, he responded that the company will not invest a lot of capital on e-commerce, and that the same man power will be used for managing operations. He added that the “company’s engineers had a higher caliber than normal PHP engineers.”
On managing iPhone 4S bookings for Aircel: Bajaj informed that Ncarry was simply powering the e-commerce front for Aircel and that Drive India was distributing the handset for the carrier.
On competition: Bajaj said that the company does not want to compete with existing e-commerce players. He also denied pushing the e-commerce front as a means to raise new funding.
Although, the company claims that it is developing its recommendation engine and the e-commerce website is the first part of the plan, we feel that there’s still lack of clarity on how developing a recommendation engine or getting into e-commerce will help the company monetize without any incremental investment.
Earlier: Mobile instant messaging and VoIP company Nimbuzz has ventured into e-commerce, launching a new website Ncarry.com, to retail mobile handsets. The company, through the new site will also take pre-orders and sell the iPhone 4S for mobile operator Aircel, one of the two carriers who are offering the phone in the Indian market. The website mentions that it benefits from Nimbuzz’ ties with Indian mobile operators and handset makers, which is a little strange, since carriers don’t sell handsets (barring a few exceptions) and handsets are mostly available in the open market.
Ncarry claims to offer handsets and tablets across major brands including Apple, Blackberry, Nokia, HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Micromax, and Spice, and offers free shipping and Cah on delivery across India. It also claims to stock accessories, however, at the time of writing this post, we did not find mobile accessories on the website.
Also, since it would compete with multi-product e-commerce sites like Flipkart, LetsBuy and Infibeam, and Saholic*, another website that exclusively sells mobile handsets and tablets, we expected it to offer features like a comparison engine, user reviews and the ability to keep track of one’s product browsing history, which most of the other players offer.
*Disclosure: Spice Digital is an advertiser with MediaNama.