Millions of people in Southeast Asia are going online for the first time through their smartphones. The region’s “mobile-first” approach makes it especially attractive for e-commerce, social network, and gaming companies—when their apps work, that is. Unfortunately, users are often frustrated by slow connection speeds. Neumob, a service that decreases load times for mobile apps, wants to help developers there.
The Sunnyvale, California-based company, which has raised $10.8 million so far from investors like Accel Partners, has added new servers in Malaysia and Vietnam to its global network. While Neumob makes a consumer app for Android (an iOS version is coming soon), its Southeast Asia launch focuses on its business-to-business app acceleration software development kit, says founder and CEO Jeff Kim.
“We’re excited about the implications for consumers, however—many should see their apps loading significantly faster soon after launch, as we’re in a number of talks with Southeast Asian and global app developers to speed up their apps in Asia and around the world.”
Neumob’s POP network covers 46 metropolitan areas, with about half of its servers divided between Europe and North America. The company also added a server in Taipei, Taiwan, as part of its expansion plans for the rest of Asia, and its already has points of presence in Jakarta, Singapore, and Mumbai.
The startup claims that its main product, Neumob Accelerator, enables apps to run two to ten times faster no matter what network they are on, which hopefully translates into better app performance and higher revenue and user retention rates.
Developers sometimes use their website’s CDNs (content delivery networks) to boost the speed of their mobile apps, but because those are built for desktop use, they are often ineffective for sending data to individual devices. Neumob’s technology increases app speeds by focusing instead on latency issues in the “mobile mile” between the Internet and device. Kim says its mobile-first strategy is what sets Neumob apart from competitors like Akamai, CloudFlare, and Fastly, which focus on desktop CDNs.
Since many people in Southeast Asia don’t own a PC and rely on their smartphones to go online, slow loading apps are a major pain—if they even load at all.
“We’re working with many customers in which the problem isn’t merely app abandonment or slow performance. Their apps simply don’t function in Southeast Asia,” says Kim. “One customer of ours has an app in which end-users take photos and upload them. The uploads fail due to slow networks and inefficient routing.”
“Another example we’re seeing is financial trading apps, in which financial trades fail because the underlying prices have changed,” he adds. “Beyond performance, the functionality simply doesn’t work, which gives app developers huge headaches and lost revenues.”
After tackling Malaysia, Neumob plans to focus on India, Vietnam, and Indonesia in the future.
“Malaysia was a natural first choice for us—the country’s mobile penetration rate has just exploded over the last couple years,” says Kim. “There are over 10 million smartphone users in Malaysia alone, and so the market for mobile apps is enormous.”