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Local Search App AroundMe Trumps Yelp’s Mobile Apps With 6M Monthly Users

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Study: 61% of U.S. Households Now Have WiFi

Wow, AroundMe has really been flying under the radar. The location-aware mobile search app is announcing today that it’s now passed the 6 million mark for monthly unique visitors. To put that in perspective, Yelp’s mobile apps see 5.7 million+ monthly uniques these days. Not bad, then, considering AroundMe has a single founder, a team of four, and no outside funding.

The company is also now reporting having surpassed 1 million downloads per month, and has recently announced new partnerships with OpenTable, Booking.com for hotel reservations, and Telenav for web-based navigation.

For those unfamiliar with AroundMe’s app, well, check your phone. You probably downloaded it at some point. I know I did. Heck, I even launch the thing occasionally, when I’m looking for a nearby gas station, Starbucks, or restaurant and have gotten frustrated with using Apple’s built-in maps app to find something nearby.

Currently available on both iOS and Android (and Windows Phone soon), the app reaches most of the world, but its user base is still largely American. About 60% of users come from the U.S., 35% from European markets, and Japan is seeing some growth, too.

The app reminds me of an independent version of Google’s Places app, which offers listings in many of the same categories: restaurants, ATMs, bars, hotels, etc. Except in Google’s case, the listings point to the Google Place pages, of course. Also, notes founder Marco Pifferi with a laugh, “actually, we started first.”

The idea to list nearby places of interest, stores, venues and the like was rather innovative when AroundMe launched back in September 2008. When Google later mirrored the same concept with its Places app, Pifferi said he wasn’t really concerned.

“Nothing really changed for AroundMe,” he says, “we kept growing.”

Plus, he adds, “the market is huge, so there’s space for a lot players in the same field.”

The company, also notable for being profitable since its launch, monetizes its service in a number of ways. In-app advertising generates much of its revenue – the $2.99 upgrade to disable the ads isn’t a main revenue source, just a feature for those who prefer it.

AroundMe is also focused on lead generation. It has established partnerships with several third-party services, which involve either affiliate streams (as with Booking.com) or just a flat fee, as with its contract with Warburg, a real estate company for the NYC area.

Going forward, Pifferi says the goal is to integrate more of these types of services into the app, some through partnerships while others will be built in-house. He mentions a gas price finder, for example, as well as taxi finder service, as two in development now. Further down the road, the goal is to introduce an ad marketplace where merchants can bid in real-time to target nearby users with their offers.

Although not an overnight success story, AroundMe is doing well. The company is profitable, growing, and still in no need of outside capital. “We’re generating more money than we can spend,” Pifferi admits.

As for its under-the-radar status? Well, they’ve just been busy, he says.

“I’ve always been focused on just building a company,” says Pifferi, “but now I think it would be great to tell the world that we’ve reached a very nice milestone.”

A few, actually: 6 million monthly uniques, 1 million monthly downloads, and 27 million searches per month, across 209+ countries and 19,000 cities worldwide. Not bad, AroundMe.