A social network called Eskimi is turning the web-based model back to front in Lithuania. Rather than starting as an on-line network and building a mobile branch, it started as a pure mobile network on WAP. It is now building towards a full web version, and picking up tens of thousands of subscribers along the way.
What’s the story?
Eskimi launched in Lithuania in March last year. Much like MocoSpace in the States, the main drive behind Eskimi is to offer an on-line experience over the mobile. It allows you to do the things you’d expect from a social network, like browsing profiles, chatting, voting and uploading pictures. The actual business model of the service is based around virtual goods, though. Users can buy digital goods over the service – and along with mobile advertising, this forms the main revenue stream.
However, where Eskimi started to get interesting was when it launched internationally in January this year, adding seven languages including English, Spanish, Russian and Indonesian. Since then it has passed the 50,000 subscriber mark, and expects to gain a lot more when the web version goes live this autumn.
The company that runs Eskimi is called ActiveSec – and while it describes itself as a development company, it also has a lot of background in mobile marketing and operator portals.
What we think?
This looks like “right place at the right time”. While MocoSpace has been doing very well in the States, it has staggering competition from the likes of Twitter and Facebook, who have sophisticated and easy-to-use mobile apps. But the markets that Eskimi is targeting, starting with Lithuania, have a much less developed internet market. Mobile phones are a more important internet device there – so it doesn’t have to face the same kind of competition from non-mobile social networks. On top of that, smartphones are far less common in Eskimi’s markets. Mobile users there are more dependent on operator portals to get a decent web experience on mobile – and ActiveSec has WAP and portal experience. If the company can get Eskimi embedded on operator portals in these markets, it could be looking at a far greater audience than it’s planned on-line launch will get it.
For more info on mobile networks, check out our list of Mobile Social Networking Sites