InMobi, the worldâ€™s largest independent mobile advertising company, has announced that it will be closing down its African offices and relocating to its regional offices in London and other parts of the world, in a surprising move given Africa is the world’s fastest growing handset market.
The surprise move has caught many employees, experts and customers off guard, given that InMobi carries out most of its business on the handsets that are quickly becoming prevalent on the continent.Â â€œWe are changing the way we service the Africa and Russia markets. InMobi will continue to service any markets affected by these changes through centralised sales teams located in our regional centres,â€ the company said in a statement.It is reported that InMobi has given its Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nairobi employees two options: that of moving to the firmâ€™s London offices, or face retrenchments.â€œInMobi is committed to servicing the global mobile advertising industry as it has always done. We are currently meeting with all of the employees impacted by these changes to identify any potential redeployment options if at all possible,â€ it said.
InMobi claims that the move was decided on after reviewing its business on the continent and other parts of the world to â€œdetermine how to optimally serve our customers.â€
The company has however not disclosed how exactly it intends to do this.
InMobiÂ is said to reach over 485 million customers in more than 165 countries via 93.4 billion mobile impressions per month. However, Africa contributes only 10 percent of the companyâ€™s ad impressions, reaching 35.4 million consumers on the continent.
The decision to exit the African market comes barely a year after the 5-year startup strengthened its African management team, with the appointment of Moses Kemibaro as sales director for Africa, to assist Isis Nyongâ€™o, the vice president and managing director for Africa. It is just a month after the company advertised for a SA sales manager.
Africaâ€™s mobile ad market is valued at US$200 million, while the global mobile ad market is valued at US$8 billion.
The Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) says that Africa will have more than 700 million handsets by the end of 2012.