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Middle East app developer Info2cell rides smartphones' wave

Info2Cell, one of the region's largest mobile applications developers is looking to expand to Asia and the Far East as it projects revenues of $20 million this year.

Info2cell, one of the region's largest mobile applications developers, is looking to expand to Asia as it projects revenues of US$20 million (Dh73.4m) this year.

The company, which generated $18m in revenues last year, a growth of 29 per cent since 2011, is headquartered in Dubai with offices in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. It is owned by the publicly listed Italian Acotel Group, which bought Info2cell in 2005.

Much of its growth has come from the increasing rates of smartphone penetration across the region.

"The main area of growth has been the usage of our applications that are dependent on data services," said Bashar Dahabra, the founder and chief executive of Info2cell. "Smartphone penetration makes it easier to access our new services over the internet."

Cheaper price points for data have also encouraged growth.

"Mobile operators across the region are becoming more aggressive with their pricing plans and mobile broadband offerings. We are seeing larger penetration of broadband among users and 80-90 per cent of these mobile broadband users tend to be smartphone users," said Mr Dahabra.

Info2cell, which works with 40 mobile operators across the Middle East and Africa, has 25 apps in its repertoire. It is looking to develop three more apps this year. It is also developing gaming applications, given rising demand in the region.

"About 80 per cent of GCC nationals do not participate in active sport after the age of 30," Mr Dahabra noted. "They need to be entertained and most of the people who live in these countries have access to effective broadband, so we'll see more mushrooming of apps."

There are two main types of mobile applications, according to Mr Dahabra: passive ones that provide information and others that engage the user.

"People have been looking for apps that are more engaging, more challenging and social in nature," he said. "In the future we will see more location-based apps with live data, interaction and virtual and augmented reality."

While Saudi Arabia is Info2cell's biggest market at the moment, it is now pushing eastward for further growth and expansion.

"We have just launched services in Malaysia. I am keen to explore more of the Far East, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam for our services because we have a lot of Islamic content," said Mr Dahabra.

Info2cell is also heading to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

"Mobile operators are offering better revenue share and price points; this has encouraged us to go back and look at these countries. India has one billion people and has huge potential," Mr Dahabra said.

thamid@thenational.ae

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