As affordable Android phones start reaching consumers on developing countries like Indonesia and Bangladesh, more will spring for data plans.
But the problem is that carriers see very low average revenue per user in these markets, perhaps around $2 to 3 per month per person.
Most won’t be able to afford standard plans, so how do carriers consumers a flexible range of options?
Maybe even a la carte access to specific apps?
That’s where Finland’s Blaast comes in. It’s a startup that’s been around for a couple years with a product that’s similar to what Facebook-acquired Snaptu used to do in bringing social networks and messaging to thousands of types of feature phones.
They’ve just launched a new app store that lets users in developing countries pick and choose which apps they want data access for. In a way, it’s similar to what Andreessen Horowitz-backed ItsOn is doing for developed countries. That company is partnering with one of the large U.S. carriers to give consumers an easy way to pick and choose how they want to access mobile broadband.
In contrast, Blaast is focused on developing countries. They’ve partnered with Sony and a carrier XL Axiata to pre-install it on certain Xperia phones in Indonesia. Just to note, Indonesia is a pretty unique market that’s extremely savvy about social networking products. It’s Facebook’s fourth largest market behind Brazil, India and the U.S.
The company already has partnerships with carriers in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia that put its product in 50 million active SIM cards.
Blaast’s app store compresses apps by up to 50 percent and runs them in the cloud. The store only has about 20 apps at the moment but they’re adding more. Their original product put more than 100 apps in a single one, and included Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, news apps and social games.
The 30-person company is not yet cash-flow positive and it’s raised 5 million euros from investors including Ambient Sound Investments, Veturi Venture Accelerator, Pekka Vartiainen and Steve Blank.