Founded in July 2011, Maaii introduced an Aple iOS version of its app at the end of January. An Andorid version is in beta. The app currently offers free international calls for Maaii users in 37 countries during the promotion period, and has more than 500,000 unique users.
Bite Communications Hong Kong office earned the global appointment through a multiagency competitive pitch at the end of last year that involved a number of international digital and social marketing firms.
According to Chris Lewis, vice president at Maaii, who was previously head of Skype operations in Greater China and Japan, “Bite was selected because it is a partner with global reach that matches ours, and an insight-driven approach that uses integrated channels to deliver measurable results.”
Bite has a number of handset clients including HTC accounts in China and Australia. It is also working on Nokia's global account in Europe and North America, and previously handled the Skype account.
According to Lewis, the major differentiation between Maaii and its counterparts, including WhatsApp, Line, Skype and Tencent Weixin, is that Maaii is connected to social media like users' Facebook accounts, and the app allows to make free calls to other Maaii users and fixed-line users worldwide.
Paul Mottram, Bite's executive vice president, Asia-Pacific, said the agency will use insight-driven and integrated communications, engaging in social media, digital marketing and traditional PR to help Maaii build on its significant early momentum.
Bite’s work for Maaii is being led from Hong Kong with support from a global team in San Francisco and London and spanning Asia-Pacific, EMEA and North America. The initial campaign includes global social media influencer outreach and Facebook marketing, as well as traditional media relations, including launches at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on 28 February and the landmark South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, in mid March.
"Smartphone communications apps are an extremely competitive market, with everyone fighting to stand out," Mottram said. "Not a great deal of loyalty toward apps. Our central task is to articulate Maaii’s unique proposition that combines reliable, global reach with seamless social-media integration and an unbeatable 'zero' price point.”
In the free social-networking app cateory, Maaii is currently ranked one or two in the Middle East, in the top 12 in Singapore, among the top 45 in China and in the top 50 in Hong Kong. "Our challenge is to create noise and be discovered by users," Lewis said.