The mobile messaging app has also signed on AliExpress to sell goods directly to its users
(Updated with comment from Tango)
To make money, mobile messaging app Tango has so far relied on a few different revenue streams. That has included advertising and gaming. There is one big looming stream, though, that the company is just now starting to tap into: e-commerce.
Tango has launched a social shopping service, it was announced on Tuesday, allowing its members to buy products from retailers directly through the app. It will offer curated lists of products based on user preferences, while also allowing them to create their own collections to share with family and friends.
It also revealed its first two partners, and they are big ones: Walmart and AliExpress, a global consumer retail marketplace owned by Alibaba Group. Alibaba is an investor in Tango, having put $215 million into the company in 2014.
Tango is already saying that it "expects to expand shopping options over time to include additional retailers and geographies," though the Eric Setton, CTO of Tango, told me that the company could not comment on what these might be at this time.
"Tango’s overall plan is to become much more than just a messaging app. With the launch of Tango Shop we are taking a bold first step into transforming the messaging app into the 'center of your mobile life,'" he said.
"We continue to offer a curated set of experiences with features like games and music. With Tango Shop we are adding another layer of content that our users can discover and share with others to enrich their conversations."
For mobile messaging companies, like WeChat and Line, branching out beyond simple messaging is the key to success. Gaming, in particular, is a popular way to get users to interact with each other.
Line, for example, offers both games and emoji, or stickers, that customers can purchase and use to communicate with one another as well as personalize their user profiles. Line's revenue in the last three months of 2013 was 12.2 billion yen or $119 million, an increase of more than fivefold from a year earlier. Roughly 60% of that revenue came from its games, while another 20% came from sticker sales.
WeChat also makes the majority of its money from games and stickers. The app is projected to make 6.8 billion Yuan, or $1.1 billion this year and 9.6 billion Yuan next year. About 85% of the money that it makes will come from gaming.
This marks a new direction for Tango, which has relied on advertising and gaming, for revenue, launching its gaming platform in 2013, and then announcing a new $25 million fund to get the best game developers onto the platform.
The Mountain View, California-based company allows users to text, call, video chat and play games with each other for free. It also allows users to buy animations and avatars to "enrich their communications and messages."
The company rolled out social networking features on in July of 2013, and integrated with Spotify in October 2013. Since then, Tango says that hundreds of millions of songs have been shared between its members. The company now has more than 300 million users, and is available in 15 languages in more than 224 countries.
Tango has raised a total of $367 million in venture capital financing to date. Investors in the company include Access Industries, DFJ, Qualcomm Ventures, Toms Capital and Translink Capital, as well as Bill Tai, Shimon Weintraub, Jerry Yang, Alex Zubillaga and others.
VatorNews reached out to Tango for further comment and we will update this story if we learn more.
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Founded in September 2009, Tango is a free mobile video calling service that connects family and friends wherever they are. Tango offers high-quality video calling for iOS and Android devices and works over 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi. More than 10 million people in 190 countries are using Tango to communicate every day, stay connected, and share special moments as they happen. Download the Tango application for free in the App Store and Android Market. Tango is based in Palo Alto, California.