GupShup – Chatter or Twitter for the Masses?

May 21, 2008

in Mobility, Networks, Knowledge and Social Media

Why aren’t mobile operators offering Twitter like services? Probably because they haven’t seen GupShup or it isn’t on their radar yet. Om Malik picked up on it earlier, then he’s connected to the investor. GupShup has over 4 million subscribers. So I’d actually expect it to be bigger than Twitter before too long.

GupShup means chatter or gossip. GupShup is a smart adaption for the Indian market. With each SMS paid for by Advertising a user is limited to 100 characters. Thus I send and pay for one SMS and all my friends may be in on the joke. That’s a cheap way to forward and makes sense in a market that is mostly prepaid. Sending joke and the like is also very common behavior in India. GupShup allows you to create your own group. It’s not clear if you put me in your group as to whether I can opt out. I’d probably have to either join or threaten you with harm to manage either. None of this would go down so well here where unlimited plans are available for heavy text users and we pay for inbound and outbound (which remains stupid!).

GupShup doesn’t offer an API and was likely simple to put together. Dhiraj (a user) I think is the most popular with 66350 subscribers and some 2472 updates. He appears successful because subscribers also like forwarding his content. That’s common in India. Makes me think of a livejournal / facebook guestbook or wall executed in SMS where each post is standalone. You can also post updates from gmail. I didn’t like the “age” display so I’m now 106!

It’s evolving. I do like the SMS related pictures which shows how GupShup is much more SMS centric than Twitter. It also has a business model from the get go. It can make money on the ads. There’s lots more they could copy that is part of the Twitter success, similarly they have opportunities to really develop new angles. Unlike Twitter they have the opportunity to really focus on the SMS feature set.

One learning from around the world. If it works in one country it is likely to work in another. Most of us still don’t need a global Twitter – rather we are local and limited in terms of the number of friends we really want to keep updated. This is a low cost way to share and keep in touch. It could be huge with the emerging market and those that don’t have huge unlimited texting plans. In other words this works on a budget and without an internet connection. With little change I could see this launched in many countries.

The real mystery to me is why the carriers aren’t providing these services themselves. They would be advised to take an early stake.

Webaroo launches GupShup – Indian TwitterClose on the heels of my post on a Twitter like service for India, Webaroo has announced the launch of GupShup, a group SMS service. Create a group (or your own channel), invite your friends to join your group. Any SMS you send to the group will be then automatically forwarded to all those who have joined your group. You also have the option to keep your group and its messages private. The messages posted to all non-private groups appear on their website. Users can also create polls, quizzes and also solicit ratings from the group members.

As per an interview with AgecyFaqs, the service will be supported by contextual text advertising. An ad will appear as text of 40 characters after the main message. Startup Dunia

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