First, Skype and Nimbuzz reported how well they are doing. Then there was the spectacular launch of Viber. And now fring is telling us that they are seeing their quarterly revenues grow at a rapid clip, thanks to the growing popularity of its Android app which is boosting demand for its fringOut service. It seems mobile VoIP is finally seeing its day under the sun.
“We have been bringing in $10,000 in daily revenues from Android phones,” says Jake Levant, vice president of marketing at London/Tel-Aviv-based fring, which makes a multi-platform app for video and voice calling over Wi-Fi and 3G networks. The company has seen a big burst in growth thanks to the expanding Android ecosystem. “We are on track to doubling our revenues in the first quarter of 2011,” Levant added. The company makes money by offering cheap calling plans, called fringOut, for folks who want to reach contacts outside of the fring network.
What’s helped: more incorporation of front facing cameras in new smartphones, which makes fring’s cross-platform video calling service possible. In addition to the iPhone, the HTC EVO and Samsung’s popular Galaxy phones and tablets have front facing cameras, for example. The availability of video calling makes folks install fring and later use it for outbound phone calls.
Even though fring started life on Nokia’s Symbian platform, its recent growth has come thanks to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android-based smartphones. At present, Android accounts for a third of its total installed base and is growing at a rapid clip, especially in countries like South Korea. North America accounts for 40 percent of fring’s new downloads, making it one of the fastest growing regions for the company. The company says it has more than ten million users who have activated the service and the majority of its calls are destined for Canada, India, the UK and Australia.
The company is still waiting clearance from Apple to launch its fringOut service on the iPhone, however, so the majority of the fringOut revenues coming from North America are from Android phones. But the Android ecosystem has its own headaches with wild variances in device capabilities, different versions of Android available and customized user interfaces. As a result, fring has to modify its app for different handsets and different manufacturers. Nevertheless, that’s fine with Levant because Android is what is turbo-charging its business.
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