Qype is nothing if not a survivor. Since its founding in Germany in 2005 as a local reviews site, it’s managed to fend off intense competition in the UK (including the arrival of American pioneer Yelp), the rise of mobile-location services such as Foursquare and the stomping success of GroupOn, the local deals service.
Now it’s raising €6.5m – including €3.5m from Vodafone, with the remainder from existing investors Advent Venture Partners, Partech International and Wellington Partners – to redouble its efforts on mobile.
In the Arab Gulf, it’s not just harassed businessmen who depend on BlackBerrys. Young people see the smartphones, and their social networking potential, as a way round conservative strictures. And the phone revolution doesn’t stop there: between 2007 and 2009, telecoms usage grew more in the Middle East (31.8-per-cent growth) than it did in Asia Pacific (23.6 per cent), according to independent research for the Middle East’s largest handset distributor, Axiom Telecom.
Axiom is hoping that all this can power its own initial public offering next month – the first new listing in the United Arab Emirates for two years. The company can point to a lucrative deal with BlackBerry-maker RIM. But even in the BlackBerry-loving Gulf, the margins are very tight.