Twitter Inc.’s CEO Dick Costolo met India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday during a visit to the country, one of the largest user bases for the microblog. The visit was a first for Twitter’s chief executive, according to the company.
On Tuesday, Modi, an active Twitter user who used tweets in his winning election campaign last year, launched “Twitter Samvad,” which roughly translates to “conversations on Twitter,” a service to connect key government officials directly to citizens via Twitter.
Costolo joins Google Inc.’s Android boss Sundar Pichai and Facebook Inc.’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg in courting India, a rapidly transforming market of a billion mobile phone users with only about one in five possessing a smartphone. He will also visit Indonesia during this trip, another rising market in Asia that boasts the largest proportion of mobile users of Twitter anywhere in the world.
Twitter Samvad is based on a technology developed by ZipDial, which Twitter acquired recently. Bangalore-based ZipDial successfully built and commercialized a missed-call service, where one calls a predetermined number and hangs up -- or the service hangs up automatically -- to get tweets delivered to the mobile phone from which the call was made. The service works with most basic handsets too.
“Based on Indian technological innovation, Twitter Samvad is dedicated and specially built for the largest democracy of the world,” Costolo said in the release. “This Tweet-powered service enables citizens to be the first to know about the government’s actions by receiving political content in real time on their mobile devices anywhere in the country.”
Lets deepen our connect! Give a missed call on 011 3006 3006 & get my Tweets on your mobile as SMS.
â€” Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 24, 2015
India’s growing startup ecosystem is reminiscent of the environment in Silicon Valley, Costolo told the Times of India Wednesday. This ecosystem is growing in part because more people in India, the world’s third-biggest smartphone market, are turning to their handsets for Internet access, catalyzing the rise of mobile technology startups as well as online shopping sites.
Twitter is looking to tap into this growing market, where Google launched its Android One phones and Facebook recently offered a host of Internet services free of cost to mobile phone subscribers on the network of Reliance Communications Ltd., the country’s fourth-biggest wireless carrier.
Twitter is also seeking to boost sales in other parts of Asia. It recently opened an office in Hong Kong to target businesses and celebrities in Greater China.