While Foursquare has been concentrating on smartphones for some year now, much of the rest of the world has remained on a feature phone (though that of course is changing). So the opportunity to do location-based services has been limited – though not impossible. It has always been possible to triangulate a phones’ rough location based on the nearest three base stations using. So taking that idea, last year a new startup called hoppr launched in India, offering real benefits to people who could simply SMS to check in their location and gain benefits with local retailers. That simple strategy has lead to the point today where, after only six months in full operation, hoppr has garnered over three million registrations and over a million monthly active users.
Given this is India we’re talking about, the numbers can look pretty good. CEO and fonder Mohammad Imthiaz told me they are getting half a million check-ins daily and have racked up over 65 million check-ins to date. Although hoppr comes as an Android app which went live only recently, this growth is largely in part because hoppr can be reached via seven of India’s mains mobile operators. This footprint reaches about 95% of mobile users in the country, through hoppr’s simple free SMS code they can text to ping their location.
On hoppr, you don’t become the Mayor of a venue, but the Skipper. And you can, like Foursquare, see how you rank against your friends in number of check-ins. See what they did there?
Cleverly, even if users don’t have a smart phone, they can share their location back into to Facebook just by texting hoppr. Given that 95% of India’s 700 million mobile population use basic feature phones ranging in cost between $20 and $60, you can see why SMS remains so important.
As Imthiaz told me when I was in India recently, the speed of the mobile connection is a big deal in India, which is why just being able to send an SMS to check-in is so important.
hoppr is owned by BhartiSoftBank, a 50:50 JV between India-based Bharti Enterprises and Softbank, the Japanese telecommunications giant. Bharti Enterprises is one of India’s biggest companies with interests in telecom, agri business, retail and manufacturing.