NEW YORK, Aug. 29, 2016 /CNW/ - [OTCMKTS:HLLPF][CSE:HP] Amidst a sea of new apps that are launched every month, developers continue to fight to overcome the initial barriers to gaining viral status. As they gain traction, and ultimately more users, new apps go through stages of market acceptance before becoming truly popular.
That popularity can often be gauged by rankings in technological trend setter regions, such as Japan, Singapore, and the United States.
Typical successful apps that gain traction involve the smartphone's primary use, communication. Whether it's text apps like WhatsApp or photo/video text apps like SnapChat, apps that involve peer-to-peer interaction tend to spread virally, powered mostly by word of mouth.
As global communities continue to interact more and more internationally, the importance of language is growing annually. Travellers around the world, or just armchair companion seekers are starting to utilize translation and language learning software at climbing rates.
Whether it's asking for the WiFi password from the concierge in Brazilian Portuguese, or inviting that cute group of French tourists you met out to join you for drinks; having another language at your disposal can be crucial and advantageous for even the most casual globetrotters.
In the age of smart phones, many of these language gaps are being overcome with online translator apps like Apple Inc.'s [NASDAQ: AAPL] iTranslate, or Alphabet Inc.'s [NASDAQ: GOOGL] Google Translate, and World Lens (acquired in 2014 when Google bought Quest Visual to integrate the software into Google Translate). Even social media giant Facebook [NASDAQ: FB] with its in-platform translating, and internet icon Yahoo [NASDAQ: YHOO] with its BabelFish function have opened up communication between different cultures and language speakers.
However, in terms of actually communicating with another native speaker of a language, these apps and platforms don't seem to utilize or generate real-time usability to really encourage a person to truly learn a language.
Enter publicly-traded developer Hello Pal, which recently jumped from a ranking of 880 to 95, in the coveted Singapore market. Hello Pal consistently ranks in the top 100 social messaging apps in dozens of countries. Massively growing its user base on mostly word-of-mouth advertising, Hello Pal's marketing budget has so far been negligible, in the low $10,000s.
Hello Pal is a social messaging app, designed around language learning. In the app, users are connected with speakers of many languages around the world, and to learn new languages by actually talking.
The Upper Echelon
The developers of the app, Hello Pal International [CSE:HP], are built around founder/developer KL Wong, and superstar Chinese venture capitalist Hans Xu.
Wong's successes with education software go back to 2008, with the development of BrillKids (short for Brilliant Kids), which teaches babies as young as one-year-old how to read, play music, and solve mathematic equations. Backed by the same development team as BrillKids, Wong has put together Hello Pal in the hopes of repeating the critical acclaim, and eclipsing the financial success.
Achieving the backing of Xu, is a major benefit for the Hello Pal team. Xu's New Margin Venture group is one of China's largest venture capital firms, managing over USD $3 billion in funds, both in and outside China. As a major shareholder of Hello Pal, Xu is committed to seeing Hello Pal succeed and grow, much like most of his portfolio. And yes, New Margin is also invested in the project.
Xu's and New Margin's influence will likely be the main difference maker for Hello Pal, as their collective portfolio is filled with highly successful technology, mobile and internet based investments.
The combination of Wong's innovative genius with BrillKids, and Xu's New Margin successes makes for a very interesting prospect ahead. These are dedicated builders, devoted to seeing Hello Pal truly take off.
Compared to famous language platforms such as US-based Rosetta Stone or the Rocket Language based out of New Zealand, Hello Pal has a social advantage in their interpersonal user experience. No longer is reciting lines about black cats sitting on tables, users are picking up new language skills in real-time conversations, with real people.
As well, given its Chinese origins, Hello Pal is already taking off in Asian markets, who tend to be market drivers in software engagement. People of all age groups, nationalities, and language goals have signed on to learn their language of choice with other native speakers.
Hello Pal users derive their learning from actually speaking the words and phrases, as opposed to repetition learning. It's a messaging app, complete with filters to help the user select their other-language counterparts.
Without really any promotion so far to speak of, the popularity of Hello Pal has already significantly grown in an organic way.
As of recently, the company had 620,000 users (566,000 Android/53,500 iOS), and has been adding at a clip of 3,500-4,000 new daily users. The company hasn't published updated user numbers but I suspect they are approaching the million registered users mark if not already past this. When an app has such early organic traction and stickiness this can easily grow exponentially.
Now the project seems to be gearing up for the next wave, as it announced the release of Hello Pal version 3.0, which now comes complete with video and audio calling capability.
"Voice and video calling is a key feature for us, as it allows conversations between users to be more personal," said KL Wong in a recent news release.
"We hope this takes us one step further towards helping to break down language and cultural barriers between people, in line with our corporate mission."
Road to Revenue
The user growth of the platform and many other social messaging apps like it, tends to be exponential. As social influencers become heavy users, they have the ability to convert many others to using the platform over other similar apps.
Now that the app is starting to achieve respectable market penetration numbers, and has cracked the Singapore Top 100 list, the future revenue models of the company will start to become more and more applicable.
The company plans to usher in paid VIP memberships on monthly, quarterly or yearly plans. The VIP experience would include full phrasebooks, no translation limits, and an overall more premium experience for the user. Other fee based add-ons such as stickers and premium phrasebooks will be available for subscribers and non-subscribers.
As well, the company has many advertising/sponsorship possibilities they can choose to activate. So far Hello Pal has refrained from in-app advertising as it continues to grow out its user base.
Most likely, however, will the app be used by language instructors, who will have the option of offering their services and charging fees, which Hello Pal will be entitled to also capitalize on for facilitating the transaction.
Either way, as the app which so far has held a respectable 4-star rating averaged over close to 8,000 reviews in the Play Store, and the user base continues to grow, so does the user experience. With more users to chat with, the platform gains strength.
With a marketing budget so-far only in the $10,000s, and very little conventional promotion so far, and without yet having been a featured app on either the Android or iOS app stores, Hello Pal's trajectory has yet to truly take off towards its potential and more importantly the potential for the company's investors.
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