I say community, but after its recent partnership with PONS Publishing Group, the second biggest publisher in Germany as part of the Klett Group, and now with its iPhone debut, the startup is clearly navigating more traditional waters in the language learning space, going up against much more traditional players. The “community” angle might bring in the punters – all 900,000 registered members – but it’s selling professionally-produced learning content that clearly pays the bills.
That said, the newly launched iOS apps are still a freemium play: The free version of each app gives access to 20 learning units (5 units at each level), while the complete, paid-for content (€2.99 per learning level or €12 for each entire course) offers vocabulary units with more than 3,000 words and phrases, grammar units, 150 dialogues and “hundreds of interactive exercises”.
They cover beginner to advanced-intermediate learning levels (A1, A2, B1, B2) according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Furthermore, a learner’s progress can be synced between the iPhone app and bussu’s website, and the former doesn’t require a persistent data connection to function.
As already noted, busuu competes with heavyweights such as incumbent Rosetta Stone, and other startups in the space including Livemocha and Babbel. In March of this year, the Spanish company secured its first round of funding, undisclosed but thought to be somewhere below €500,000.