Ankit Prasad, the founder & CEO of Bobble AI, shares with Sudhir Chowdhary the company’s journey so far, and how it is disrupting the $40-billion input method editor (IME) software industry currently dominated by Google, Microsoft, Tencent and Baidu.
Gurgaon-based Bobble AI is empowering the netizens by making their communication personalised, expressive and smarter with its AI-based offerings around input methods. Ankit Prasad, the founder & CEO of Bobble AI, shares with Sudhir Chowdhary the company’s journey so far, and how it is disrupting the $40-billion input method editor (IME) software industry currently dominated by Google, Microsoft, Tencent and Baidu. Excerpts:
What is Bobble AI? What is so unique about your offering?
Bobble AI offers numerous input method editor (IME) products, with the flagship and the most popular product being the Bobble Keyboard; the highest-rated and most retained keyboard in India. The keyboard exists to make conversations even more exciting, expressive and personalised than before. The company aims to provide a smarter phone experience for the next billion Indians with Artificial Intelligence (AI) around input methods.
Since 2015, Bobble Content has been making people’s lives and conversations entertaining, by creating their unique Bobblehead based customisable Stickers and GIFs. We gained immense virality and popularity, and within the first three months of launch, we had already crossed 1 million users. Today, the number of Bobble content users have crossed more than 25 million.
Don’t you think seamless integration with social apps is a strong imperative?
Absolutely, we realised we needed to have seamless integration with social apps. Trying to achieve this through third parties was too much of a hassle, and we decided to deal with it on our own and have a solution which is handy and universal for our users. We created our own keyboard, and now possess a better understanding of the consumers’ content needs.
How do you stand out from the rest of the crowd?
No other company in the space had tried enough to understand the challenges involved in the local/regional space in the country. We launched the keyboard in 2016, and it became our mission to solve the problem of the language barrier for people getting exposed to the internet for the first time via smartphones. Our product is aimed not just at elite India, but at the next billion Indians.
We help consumer brands become a conversational topic on WhatsApp conversations with users’ personalised branded content. With our prowess in regional languages, we also have an Intent Prediction technology in place for all 22 languages. We have worked with partners like Tinder, Zomato, Sony Entertainment, Viacom18, Reebok, etc. in placing their brands over relevant Bobble content. We have also worked with Amazon, Xiaomi, Housing, Ixigo, etc.
What is the role of AI and ML to make products and services better?
Being a research-based firm, every innovation is derived through intensive research done within the organisation. The major chunk of it involves AI – face recognition, word prediction, swipe typing, speech to text, etc. Every product launch goes through a pipeline of research, proof of concept and user testing. Prior to innovation and creation, we crunch user data to understand the nuances of user behaviour. This helps us to predict user needs better, and faster. It is this quality that makes us stand out among the competition, making us the best-rated keyboard in the world.
Tell us something about the company’s core tech stack?
We take the utmost pride in the fact that every piece of technology that we use has been built in-house by our team. We have always been early adopters of relevant new tech opportunities that come our way. Be it Facebook’s open graph API, Whatsapp stickers API, Android/iOS keyboard API, etc. Our core engine that fuels the Android/iOS front-end are primarily based on AI. We also have an in-house R&D team for technology like NLP in 22 Indian languages, computer graphics for facial feature detection and modulation.
What do you think makes you better than your competitors?
For our primary product, the keyboard, our competitors are mainly Google’s Gboard and Microsoft’s Swiftkey. Their market shares are definitely better, simply because they have been in this space for a lot longer than us and have better leverage over OEMs, not to forget deeper pockets. Our market shares are radically increasing, based purely on our merit as the highest-rated keyboard globally on Play Store. In content, we compete with Samsung’s Emotify, Snapchat’s Bitmoji and Tenor GIFs.