What is Truecaller? Success Story of a Mobile App

What is Truecaller? Success Story of a Mobile App

What is Truecaller? In 2011-12, this was the one of the biggest hyped question everyone was wondering of.  At that time Truecaller app was the magical solution appeared in the telecom world which could guess the name of the unknown mobile caller. If you go on the literal meaning of its name, it will automatically reveal the true meaning of it. True Caller! The true identity of the caller.

Truecaller is a story of a successful start up app which made our techno savy life a lot much easier. Mobile revolution was life changing; but it also came up with new problems like unknown mobile numbers identification, spam calls, unwanted call or privacy/security concern. Everyone was wanted to get rid of problem of unknown number identification and spam calls. Even at that time, there was no concept of global phone directory for mobile numbers. Need is the mother of invention, so the Truecaller founded.

Founded in 2009 by Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam, Truecaller is a collaborative phone directory. Initially it was launched for Blackberry. It is a global phone directory for mobile communications. Upgrading its skill to a higher level, it also provides security and privacy. By installing Truecaller on your smart phone, you can know the details of the unknown mobile number who is calling you. It makes your life easier by identifying spam calls, Block calls, block texts and also report fraud and other unwanted calls. It is available on web as well as you can download Truecaller app on iPhone, android, Blackberry, Symbian and windows phone.

The founder and CEO of Truecaller Alan Mamedi told in an interview when asked how do you describe Truecaller –

Truecaller is a global phone directory that covers Landlines, mobiles and even prepaid phone numbers and fits into your pocket.

How Truecaller founded

The foundation story of Truecaller starts with our old concepts of phone books and yellow pages. At the time of base phone it was very easy to any person to search a contact in the phone book and to get connected to that specific person. All the contacts and important information were registered in phonebooks or you can say white or yellow pages.  But then mobile era had risen up and sooner or later the scenario was changed completely. Base phone became outdated and so the phone book directory concept. The luxury of finding people’s contact details had gone. The problems did not stopped here only but it multiplied as privacy issues like spam and fraud calls also increased with no bound. There was no way to find a fast and easy solution to identify the unknown caller at that time.

Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam were students of Royal Institutes of Technology of batch 2006, Sweden. Both of them were fond of mobile technology and shared their Smartphone experience to each other’s and always thinking to take it on next level.

One day while getting piqued by repeated calls from unknown numbers, the idea came up of solution of such regular distractions dawned on us and this is how Truecalled born in 2009                                                                                                                                                                                         – Nami Zarringhalam

They prepared a research project and developed an online global directory. This online global directory initially used to search mobile numbers of all missed calls which can be possibly from the family and friends of them. To prepare the data base for the app, they collected data from national phone directory. At the beginning it was started on a very small level. This is the story of Truecaller before the era of App store. The Blackberry users were facilitated to use this global directory facility.

We wished it were easier to look upon phone numbers for missed calls we received from our relatives living abroad and from our customers calling us at our previous job.

–  Alan Mamedi

Related- How Truecaller Makes Money

Truecaller: Functionality & Features

Truecaller is a mobile app also run on website let you search people anywhere in the world by name or number. Because it recognizes your networks and you can search for a person’s contact even if you are not aware of his last name. It will let you maintain your profile on its network associated with your phone number and provide recommendations for people to connect with via the Truecaller network. Unwanted call blocking, spam calls, shared connection, large set of contact database these are the most shining features and functionality of this app.

How Truecaller’s business model became so successful

Do you know, Truecaller was started much before the era of app store revolution? Yes, you heard it right. The story of Truecaller starts a long before the globe knows about the mobile apps. Alan and Nami, collected crowd sourced data and opened its own API to a selected group of developers. Initially, it had countable number of contacts as compared to today which is more than a billion as of date and its users increased to more than 2 billion. How it became dramatically successful? The success lies in Truecaller’s business model. The service tag line of Truecaller is to get rid of unknown numbers and also increase the network of contact for its users. Because it recognizes your social network, it can recognize your interest areas contacts. This idea looked exciting for the mobile users, especially in Middle East, Asia and European countries. Once you get addicted to this app, it will introduce you its premium plan. The second most important revenue generation comes from the big users. Truecaller sells its data to big companies which might find it very useful for business purpose. For example: Airline Industries may require contacts to improve its customer support. As API of Truecaller is limited, every company aligns to Truecaller to access its database.

Apart from database, Truecaller also performed some mind blowing business moves:

  1. Truecaller ask for review once user performed 5 successful searches.
  2. Let the user invite its friends via any mode – FB, Google, Twitter, Instagram, Text etc.
  3. Use Facebook Ticker to show when someone searched for a number. It increased its Facebook populariry.
  4. After 30 days of free trial, send push notification that highlights its best features.
  5. Display a like button to like when user completed one successful search.

At first, these moves seem very simple, but its results turn out to be tremendously successful. Facebook and twitter likes increased by 120 percent a month and hit Google play rating to 4.3 ratings.

Syrian Army hacked Truecaller Database

Truecaller is a story of good things happened to a start up. But it also faced some down falls.  In July 2013, Truecaller got hacked by Syrian Electronic army. It was one of the biggest hacking crisis in the history of hacking. The hacktivist openly released the news posting a tweet on twitter –

Sorry @Truecaller, we needed your database, thank you for it.

Not only the tweet, have they released some pictures of details showing information of some users. The Syrian electronic army also declared that over 600GB of hacked data has been sent to Syrian government. They claimed to hack 7 database servers of company. Not only this, they also tried to access Facebook, Gmail and others account linked to Truecaller. The reason behind this database hacking was outdated word press version used on the Truecaller website.

Security Concern

The way Truecaller collects information, can be a bit object ables for some of the people. Any person who uses Truecaller app, its contact got uploaded to Truecaller data base. Surprisingly, it stores your data without even knowing you and in return you cannot even object to company. But at the same time, you can delete your information from its database. It gives you that facility.

Usually you will thing what will happen when someone from any corner of the world can get your information? Well we all know that, the data on internet is vulnerable. You should know that, Even Apple’s iCloud got hacked which one of the most famous storage provider on internet in the world. Even celebrities’ pictures got hacked. Snapchat encountered the hacking incident too and 4.6 million users got affected. In short, I would like to add that, security is very thin when it comes to internet mode.

Competitors of Truecaller

The idea and the USP of this app made it one of the successful startups. But it also has competitors, who are trying to drag it down. Basically, who are the true competitors of Truecaller? Let’s see!

Recently in 2015, Facebook, launched Hello app, a true Truecaller competitor with Nifty Extras. It is online. It comes with the sum of extra features extra than Facebook. This app can be sync with your Facebook account. It not only provides caller information, but the Nifty details. By this you will be able to see the Caller’s Facebook account, birthday, place etc. One more addition to this app is you can search for places and people near you very efficiently; a unique feature which is not available in Truecaller app!

Namita Lal
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Namita Lal

Content Writer at Business Alligators
She is a SAP Consultant by profession and Student of management and technology. A hardcore Business Enthusiasts at heart. She does analysis of startups and their new business ideas; afterwards writes their story and mantra of success. Apart from Technology and Business, Her interests in Camera make her try to see the world differently. A good book and hot cup of tea are her favorite time pass.
Namita Lal
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