As Facebook and Google’s Orkut duke it out for traffic in India, another social network has quietly gained traction in the space. SMS GupShup, a Twitter-like service in India that is primarily accessed via SMS, has hit 35 million users (up from 26 million late last year) with 1 million users joining monthly.
This number seems to outpace July traffic on Facebook (21 million unique visitors) and Orkut (20 million unique visitors). Of course, SMS GupShup’s model is slightly different from the two web-based social networks because it is SMS based. Launched in April 2007, SMS GupShup (spawned from Webaroo) has seen rapid growth in users primarily due to the immense popularity of mobile devices in India.
According to the startup, there are 550 million mobile phone users in the country and only 50 million web users. With a 10 to 1 mobile-to-PC ratio and SMS serving as the most popular communications platform, the market is ripe for SMS GupShup to take off. SMS GupShup currently processes more than 500 million messages a month and accounts for over 5 percent of all texts sent within India.
The social network has also seen traction with its groups feature. Advertisers, celebrities and publishers are able to create SMS-based communities around brands on the network, and currently over the network hosts over 3.5 million groups, compared to 2 million groups eight months ago. Brand using the platform include Microsoft, eBay, pepsi, Nokia, Ford, and Dell.
The company is also attempting to use its massive userbase for polling purposes in India, where Indians are polled monthly on topics ranging from India’s view on gay marriage, India’s rating of Barack Obama vs. Manmohan Singh and more. SMS GupShup says that it is working with media companies to market this data. And the company launched an App Store and opened up its API earlier this year.
SMS GupShup plans to expand to the Phillipines next, after raising $12 million in funding earlier this year.