Norwegian-based Opera Software ASA, which owns the Opera browser featuring 350 million active users, recently purchased Bemobi, a mobile application service in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Latin America is one of our fastest growing markets," Sameer Merchant, vice president of mobile commerce at Opera Software, said in a recent phone interview with Latin Business Daily. "A large percentage of the Opera browser active users are from the region. So given this large user base in Latin America, we know what kind of services they buy."
Bemobi has 15 years of experience in the mobile market and approximately 120 employees. Current CEO Pedro Ripper will remain in his post.
Bemobi is well suited for emerging markets and the plan is to expand the service so it also can function well in other areas of the world including countries such as India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Kenia, Merchant added.
This is Opera's second acquisition of a Latin American technology company. In 2014, it bought Hunt Mobile Ads, a mobile advertising company developed in Buenos Aires, Argentina that has approximately 60 employees.
One difference between buying mobile applications in developed countries compared with emerging markets is the preference for a subscription, Merchant said.
“In some parts of the world, people buy mobile applications for 99 cents, but in Latin America and in many of the emerging countries consumers have a different pattern," Merchant said. "In emerging markets, instead of paying a dollar to buy a premium application, their preference is to pay a fee and then they can consume as many applications as they want. Understanding this is what made us make the acquisition of Bemobi."
Bemobi is popular in Latin America with the greatest number of consumers in larger countries such as Brazil and Argentina. Bemobi's partners include all leading mobile operators in Latin America.
Bemobi users pay for the service through their mobile operators' billing systems.
“For Opera's premium app-developer partners, Bemobi's reach, with over 6 million active subscribers, provides an effective channel through which they can get their apps discovered and monetized across Latin America,” Opera said in a press release announcing the purchase.
Financial details of the Bemobi acquisition have not been released.