For microblogging platform Twitter, India is now a surrogate for the emerging markets, with success here giving a clear indication of whether its products will work in other parts of the world.
Michael Fisher, global head of business development at Twitter, accepts that India is unique, but it is also critical for the future of Twitter and hence there is a lot of thought going into ensuring that whatever they are building is relevant to the Indian consumer as well.
“What do we need to do as a company to meet the needs of this market? It is very important that we figure that out,” says Fisher, who leads a global team that is responsible for partnership and distribution activities with mobile and consumer electronics manufacturers, mobile platforms, mobile carriers and game console providers.
“India represents our future in many ways. It is a huge market and everyday so many new users are coming online. There are many trends here that are supercritical for us to get right as a business to be relevant for the decades to come,” he says, underlining how it is extremely important for Twitter to do a good job here.
Arvinder Gujral, director business development – Asia-Pacific at Twitter, says Twitter started late here when it comes to monetisation, but how quickly India has ramped up has surprised San Francisco. “We are seeing massive interest by partners to do world-first initiatives here, things that haven’t happened in the US. And a lot of credit for that goes to our partners for pushing us in the right direction.”
“We have actually bought a company here and there are many engineers who sit out of Bangalore and figure out how to make Twitter relevant for the market here. And the reason we have chosen India is that it is a great surrogate for emerging markets,” Gujral says, adding that if they can get it right in the chaos that is the India market, then it can be successful everywhere from Latin America to Southeast Asia.
“Over half the world from a geographical perspective and over 70% from a population angle, we can get it right out of here. That is why we have done a lot of world first here, like the customer engagement platform,” says Gujral, also giving the example of how the Indian government engages with the people through Twitter.
“Here is a government that is actually trying to converse and that is all kudos to this market.” Fisher says that while Twitter has been reaching out to all governments across the world, it is safe to say results have been more prominent here.
On products like Moments coming to India, Gujral says eventually all products come to all markets. “We want to do a good job when we bring something to a new market, particularly one as important as India. We got to have the right editorial team in place, the right curation tools and do the right job,” adds Fisher.