While the launch of the Nokia Asha 501 in New Delhi the other week attracted plenty of attention and plaudits, just as significant was the announcement of the new Nokia Asha platform and the wonderful opportunities that this provides for developers.
For developers, the Asha platform provides an open, standards-based environment for creating quality apps. If you create an app for the Asha 501, it will also work on all future devices built on the new Asha platform.
One man who thinks this will all make a huge difference for developers is Keshav Bajaj, the VP of Business Development of the messaging app company, Nimbuzz.
Launched in May 2008, Nimbuzz has nearly 150 million users around the world and is especially popular in Asia.
Conversations spoke to Keshav about the Asha 501, why Nokia’s in-app payment is a ‘life-saver’ and the future of Nimbuzz.
What are your first impressions of the Nokia Asha 501?
I think this is a great product and it’s coming at the right time. People who don’t yet have a smartphone are looking for a device which is available at a good price.
They don’t want to compromise on features and quality, but they do want a smartphone at a lower price. The beauty of the Nokia Asha 501 is in allowing people to do more with their smartphone, while ensuring the total experience is easy and affordable.
What difference could this make for Nimbuzz?
We have always shared an excellent working relationship with Nokia. The launch of the Nokia Asha 501 has opened up a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities for both Nimbuzz and Nokia.
Specifically, the new swipe interface on the Asha 501, including Fastlane, increases the possibilities for innovation within the Nimbuzz ecosystem. We are already part of a lot of developer initiatives and we really think that Nokia is the way to go in India. Nokia is huge here.
How important are the new tools to help developers make money from their apps?
Historically, there have been very, very few opportunities for app monetisation in India. The majority of people don’t use credit cards, and even if they did, they were unlikely to pay for apps this way.
Developers are understandably frustrated: they work really hard, consumers love their apps, but the app creators have not been able to make money. The Asha platform presents an opportunity for them.
Nokia’s in-app payment will help developers all over India – it’s the way to go. A small developer cannot tie up agreements with all the operators for billing, but Nokia has done the hard work already, and created a platform that can really kick-start m-commerce in India.
There are a lot of chat apps and messenger services available. How do you stand out?
In a number of emerging countries, Nimbuzz is doing really well, primarily because Nimbuzz is an online-offline messaging application.
The majority of people in developing countries are using pre-paid connections and don’t have unlimited data. What happens when you have an always-on online application is that your money gets spent even when you are not using your phone because data is being consumed at the back-end.
With Nimbuzz, however, you don’t have this problem as you have the option to go offline and continue chatting through SMS.
Do you have any new product developments that you can share with us?
In the last six months we have been working very hard on our chat buddies. These appear as your regular chat contacts on the roster, but are supplemented by artificial intelligence. These buddies allow Nimbuzz users to access the news, check out relevant shopping offers and also update their social networks.
Nimbuzz also has its own community, enabling users to connect with not just their Phonebook friends, but also with their social networks for features like calling, group messaging, meeting new people, playing online games and a lot more.
We are working hard towards providing our users with locally relevant information, which would make the Nimbuzz experience more enjoyable and rewarding.