Blaast Launches In Indonesia, Targets The Next Billion Users

We’ve received news that tomorrow Blaast is launching “the world’s first cloud-based mobile platform” in Jakarta, Indonesia in cooperation with the mobile operator XL. The Helsinki-based company is throwing a press event and hackathon designed to catch the attention of the local press and the local developer community, who are encouraged to create apps for the entirely cloud-based platform. Finland’s Foreign Minister, Alex Stubb, is also in Jakarta and will likely attend the launch.

Blaast has been operating in stealth mode for some time, but what’s been public is that the company’s cloud based platform will essentially allow ‘dumber’ feature phones to behave like smartphones by running the complicated background processes in the cloud. Android already incorporates some of this ideology, but Blaast has built its entire platform on this concept.

For application developers, this means the Blaast platform enables applications to run simultaneously in both the device and Blaast’s backend, where there’s plenty of capacity, storage and accessibility to external services. All Blaast applications are written in Javascript, which will allow developers armed with basic knowledge in web application development to create apps.

Blaast’s website for indonesian developers further explains radically new subscription payment model for developers. Through Blaast’s application store users subscribe to an app, which I believe means they do not support up-front or in-app payments. Instead, developers will get paid according to ratios of how much time the app is used. According to Blaast’s model, the monthly payment to operators are then split three ways between Blaast, the operators, and developers.

The company is  targeting emerging markets and “the next billion users” who are predicted to start using the internet through their phones. To use Blaast, users pay a monthly subscription to their mobile operator and costs are pretty low at 15 000 Indonesian rupiahs (€1.28) a month. Heini Vesander from Blaast tells me that, “By paying a monthly fee via the operator, the users of Blaast will have unlimited use of the Blaast apps.”

According to the Blaast Indonesian Developer site’s FAQ, the company is looking to pay developers some $460 000 for one million users. One million users should bring in about €1.28 million and of that about €353 000 ($460 000) would go to developers. It’s less than third, which isn’t great. However it has to said that this is recurring revenue for developers which can add up in the long run.

On why the team chose to launch in Indonesia, Blaast CEO and co-founder Joonas Hjelt told the Jakarta Globe that they choose Jakarta for their launch because of the popularity of social media in the country.

Indonesia is a young and large country, and boasts the second highest number of Facebook users and the third highest number of Twitter users in the world. It also has a small number of fixed Internet or broadband connects, but a very high number of mobile phone users, making it an ideal pilot market.

In the future Blaast tells us they have plans to partner with the following organizations: operators for distribution and bundled offerings, phone manufacturers for pre-installing Blaast on phones, Media companies and news portals for content, and game developers.

Blaast will be an interesting company to watch in 2012. The company is steering into uncharted waters with its subscription-based payments model for users and developers, and also offers unique solutions to the high cost of hardware. Finns pride themselves on their mobile phone prowess– will this be the next big Finnish name in the mobile scene?

Blaast is a portfolio company of Veturi Venture Capital, a Vigo accelerator.