mig33, the most significant mobile service you’ve never heard of


E27 has quickly become one of my favourite tech/web-focused blogs in Asia, and I’m not just saying that because they treated me to a very nice dinner when I was last in Singapore…that’s just a bonus.

My latest pick from e27 is this article on mig33. It is the first of two parts on what is arguably one of the largest and most significant services you’ve probably never heard of.

The article delivers some excellent background on mig33 including:

mig33 is primarily a mobile application that encompasses hordes of social networking features such as chat, chat rooms, blogs, forums, groups, profiles, leader boards and provides range of services that include social games, dating services, classifieds, content portals and the list goes on.

On its business model:

Unlike other feature phone mobile applications, mig33 doesn’t make any money through operators or advertising. It has a virtual economy where users buy and trade mig33 credits to play games, exchange virtual goods, make calls and use messaging services. This has spurred the merchant model in which merchants can purchase mig33 credits in bulk and sell it to the rest of the user base, making some money out if it.

mig33 has also recently launched a game developer program, to boost its social game offerings and provide game developers access to 40 million registered users on its platform.

Yes, you read correctly that it has 40 million registered users. Consider that Facebook has 100 million mobile users worldwide and you can appreciate what a figure this is, for just Asia alone… and that is just the start:

mig33 moved to Singapore in Oct 2009 and since then, its registered active user base has grown 60% and revenue multiplied 7 times. It has 40 million users and is growing at an impressive rate of 30,000 – 40,000 users per day in addition to delivering a billion messages per day.

So where are the people using this network?

According to Goh, 99% of their user base is from the emerging markets and their largest market is Indonesia with 20 million registered users. mig33 was also the top  free application in Airtel App Central, an application store by India’s largest telco, Bharti Airtel. It has several million users in India which contributes to about 30% of their user base. It also has a large African user base consisting mainly of Indians.

What I love about mig33 (I’ve been quietly observing the company since early this year) is that it gets and taps into the potential of Asia whilst accepting the economic, social and technology-based issues.

For example, the standout quote from the article… before reading just image how many similar/standard responses the e27 question has prompted…

This application primarily runs in J2ME and is now available on Android. When I asked Goh, if he is even considering an iPhone application, Goh responds, “Not an interesting platform for us. iPhone hardly has any penetration in the emerging markets.”

Thank you. Finally a company that understands that high-end smartphones are not the device of choice for Asia (as I’ve said here and many other times before). Yes, they are popular amongst professional audiences in urban areas but they do not have anything like the mass market appeal they enjoy the west – which has propelled Apple into the world’s top 5 handset manufacturers list – and are largely irrelevant compared to more affordable phones.

Interesting to note that the company has embraced Android, a platform that offers a much greater range of devices in terms of features and price.

All in all a great piece from e27, I’m already looking forward to part two and the chance to learn more about mig33.