Glance, the InMobi Group-owned platform that curates personalised content for smartphone lockscreens jointly with homescreen guide 'Swish', reaches an estimated 500 million devices across the world. Glance is an attempt to build a device surface-based live internet. To be sure, Swish is still a nascent product and is available only in the US. Launched last year, Swish enables consumers to discover varied content such as news, entertainment, gaming, sports on the homescreen of mobile phones by leveraging its bouquet of discovery tools. The larger share of the users of the group’s surface platforms is driven by Glance which is present across India, Indonesia, Thailand, and a clutch of other Southeast Asian markets.
The group's advertising business built on these products competes with giants Facebook and Google. Tewari claims InMobi -- though much smaller in size -- is growing at a rate faster than industry. InMobi's revenue from operations marginally increased to ₹411.58 crore in FY20 from ₹384.21 crore in FY19 on a standalone basis, according to filings made by Bengaluru-based InMobi Technology Services with the RoC and sourced from business intelligence platform Tofler. Revenues stood at ₹317.81 crore and ₹287.02 crore in FY18 and FY17 respectively. The filings showed that the pace of growth of advertising revenues slowed in FY20 – ad revenues rose to ₹167.72 crore in FY20 from ₹143.47 crore in FY19, registering a year-on-year growth of close to 17%. Ad revenues, though, had surged by close to 40% on a year-on-year basis in FY19. The company is yet to file its FY21 financials. "We started off with the mobile app as a category but now we are solving for telcos, OEMs and even for the world of commerce," Naveen Tewari, founder & CEO, InMobi Group tells Fortune India.
InMobi aspires for 1 billion devices. It is not unachievable, says Tewari. Armed with a fresh $200 million funding from Jio Platforms that will help fuel Glance's expansion beyond Asia—in geographies like the US, Brazil, Mexico and Russia, the feat certainly seems doable. "Glance wants to take on surfaces and 'live' as a category and we are building a live internet for the world and bringing it on to the surfaces of the consumers. We expect to touch 200 million monthly active users in the next couple of quarters," says Tewari. Glance claims to have over 163 million active users in India and some 25 million across Southeast Asia.
Glance ventured into the live internet space in September 2021 with the launch of Glance Live, an offering that brings forth a mix of select live content across categories such as sports, entertainment, infotainment and current affairs on to the lockscreens. Glance-owned Roposo's live commerce proposition that offers consumers a live shopping experience wherein they can buy products endorsed by creators real-time while engaging with them virtually complements the company's live internet play by adding to its content offering. Initially a short video app, Roposo has pivoted into the live commerce format and is stitching up a creator-led entertainment commerce strategy. The model enables a revenue sharing arrangement (revenues earned from selling products) among brands, creators and the platform. "Our view is that traditional commerce is great, it is intent-based commerce. But we believe that a new bazaar commerce as we call it has to be created which is effectively built around influencer, celebrity and entertainment," says Tewari.
Pavel Naiya, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research points out that the digital content format is becoming increasingly interactive. The content narrative is largely being led by videos. "As we move from 4G to 5G in the coming months, it will allow users more bandwidth to consume such new types of content formats and 'live' definitely fits in very well within the emerging content ecosystem," says Naiya. Glance is well-positioned to leverage the opportunity and time is ripe to venture into live internet space, says Naiya. Glance currently gets the bulk of its users from India and Indonesia. The platform reaches close to 30% of India's 590 million smartphone users alone, says Naiya.
"If you think about Tencent, they own a platform for communication. We own a platform for content which is the surfaces. They have a huge play in gaming. We want to be one. They have a very strong play on the commerce side and they actually use payments as a way to get into that. We are going to use commerce to get into commerce. We think our advantage as an Indian company is the ability to go global," Tewari explains.
Tewari says Glance, Roposo, and gaming platform Glance Game Centre are all sizeable businesses and are looking to be global platforms in themselves. "As you could see from our approach in the last 10-12 years, we build businesses in India and take them global. That is our approach," adds Tewari.
InMobi, which is the first local startup to have turned unicorn in 2011, is very profitable, says Tewari. The company does not have to spend money to drive customer traffic for Roposo, giving it a clear edge over rivals. "We have our own massive surface platform and we get distribution through that. We do not spend any money on Roposo's user acquisition. In gaming, we have one of the largest platforms in India and we have not spent a dime on it because of the interplay between different platforms," says Tewari. The filings, sourced from Tofler, however, showed that InMobi has been in the red. The firm's losses shot up to ₹76.66 crore in FY20 from ₹54.21 crore in FY19.
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