Twitter has confirmed speculation that it’s buying Zipdial, a mobile content marketing startup based in India which lets users connect through Twitter without being online.
Zipdial provides a “missed call” feature allowing users to receive inbound marketing via text message, app notifications or voice calls after making a call to a free number. Users avoid incurring the cost of being online in countries where data costs are high or connections are unstable but brands are still able to post updates and engage with users.
Campaigns through the platform have included Bollywood film promotions and MTV India’s Rock The Vote election voting campaign.
The investment, its first in India, is a significant investment in services for emerging markets where Twitter has plenty of room for user growth.
“Over the next several years, billions of people will come online for the first time in countries like Brazil, India and Indonesia,” said Twitter’s vice president of product Christian Oestlien in a blog post. “For many, their first online experience will be on a mobile device – but the cost of data may prevent them from experiencing the true power of the internet. Twitter, in partnership with ZipDial, can make great content more accessible to everyone.
“Today, people across India use ZipDial’s platform to access great content, including cricket scores, audio programming, Tweets from their favorite Bollywood stars – and much more – on their mobile phones. Leading figures, including actors, politicians and athletes, also use the platform to instantly reach millions of citizens on Twitter through text and voice messages.
Users in India consume 60 MB of data on average every month compared to 1.38 GB by US users, Zipdial said. The company, founded in 2010, also works with brands in Asia and Africa
The terms of the deal have not been disclosed but a figure of $30m (£20m) has been reported.
Twitter isn't the only tech company to set its sights on emerging markets. Google and Mozilla have both launched low-end smartphones targeting emerging markets while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg created a new organisation focused on bringing the internet to the five billion people who currently don't have access.