I met up with my dear friend Nicky, or Nicanor V Santiago the Director of Consumer Marketing for XL Axiata out of Indonesia, at the Mobile Asia Congress yesterday, when we spoke right one after another.
Nicky and I go back a long way and he told me about their mobile social networking service called Funbook. Now, we often here write about the big famous mobile social networks in the wealthy nations like CyWorld in South Korea or Mixi and Mobage Town and Gree in Japan or Flirtomatic in the UK, USA etc. But mobile is the magical money-making machine. It works just as well also in less affluent countries, as XL Axiata has been proving with Funbook in Indonesia.
They launched in the summer of 2009 as a social networking and picture sharing/uploading service built to the needs of the Indonesian market – and yes, this means it runs on WAP as well as the web on mobile phones. As we heard at the Mobile Asia Congress, the Indonesian smartphone penetration level is only about 2.5% of all phones, so obviously a consumer service like Funbook needs to run on regular ‘featurephones’.
I can report on some of the metrics. Today they have 350,000 unique visitors per month who generate 250 million page views per month. That’s about 713 page views per visitor per month or 24 page views per day.
The original service was so successful in generating traffic; it was overloading the WAP gateways so XL Axiata deployed some clever monetizing methods… What might they be? Well, obviously there is a paid component now, and they have advertising, so that is to be expected. But also quite ‘obviously’ but the cool part – they also introduced virtual goods in anything from flirt messages to virtual gifts! Cool, this is just magical. And the users love it so much, they keep growing the membership, the total registered user base is already at 1.8 million!
I can’t reveal the actual revenues they generate, but I can tell you all three forms of income are ‘significant’ and the service earns a very healthy revenue stream. And at Indonesian average revenue levels of mobile data consumption, the Funbook registered users are generating a considerable new income stream. Very good! My very best to all my friends over at XL Axiata, this is exactly what we want to be doing. Helping our consumers have fun on their mobile phones. And you don’t need to wait until every phone is a smartphone connected to a 3G network. We can do cool stuff now.