Nimbuzz, the Netherlands-based communications technology provider, announced this week that its solution, which connects a wide selection of voice-over-IM and social networking communities with one another, will be preinstalled on the first available Toshiba TG01 smartphones.
Telecommunications provider O2 (aka Telefonica Europe) will release the phones—which have raised high anticipation since first being shown publicly in February—in the German market.
Nimbuzz, which currently claims to be adding some 750,000 users per month, has set out to erase the proprietary technical barriers that separate popular VoIP/IM communities—such as Skype, Google Talk, and Yahoo! Messenger—as well as the social networking sites Facebook, MySpace, and others—primarily for mobile phone users. (See our earlier coverage of the solution here.)
Nimbuzz reports significant user take-up, both in the developing world, where the application allows inexpensive phone calls and often serves as users’ primary connection to the Internet, and in the developed world, where it is a lifestyle product, letting the “hyper-connected” maintain a broad range of contacts with friends and associates, according to Tobias Kemper, head of communications and social media at Nimbuzz.
“When we launched—and even now—we still are building this market,” Kemper told VoIPplanet in a telephone interview. “We see that there’s a lot of demand out there, but we still have to educate people that it’s indeed possible, and already happening.” People are excited when they ‘get it’: ‘Oh wow, Skype for my mobile!’ “But not every 16-year old kid on the street [knows about us],” Kemper said.
The selection of the Nimbuzz application by Toshiba and O2 would seem to propel the company and product into a new orbit—helping to spread the word to a wider audience.
It is also the first tangible evidence that the company’s revenue projections are materializing as planned. As a business (as opposed to a communications solution), Nimbuzz has always expected that revenue would be driven primarily through partnerships, like this one with Toshiba and O2. But this is just the beginning, according to Kemper.
“Beyond Germany, where we did the launch with Toshiba yesterday, we’re going to go across Europe and other countries on the face of this planet,” Kemper said. “The main revenue driver is going to be partnerships. Things like advertising fall in there, too, but that’s not going to be the main driver.”
“Our solution will remain free,” Kemper asserted, “and if that means we have to have a banner, well, there it is.” However, when ad revenue comes into play, “it’s going to be a carefully crafted solution with the user at the center of everyone’s mind.”