Google-backed Glance pilots Android lockscreen platform in US | TechCrunch

Glance, which operates a lockscreen platform targetting Android smartphones, is setting its sights on the U.S. market. The Indian startup recently commenced a pilot program in partnership with Motorola and Verizon in the U.S., with plans for a full launch in the country later this year, sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The Bengaluru-headquartered startup, backed by investors including Google and Jio Platforms, has already made significant inroads in India, Southeast Asia, and Japan, where it expanded last year. Glance’s technology delivers a customized feed of news, local events, sports updates, media content as well as interactive games directly to users’ lockscreens without requiring them to install additional apps.

Android smartphone manufacturers have faced increasing pressure to boost revenue in recent years amid fierce competition and slim profit margins on hardware. Initially, many of these companies sought out new revenue streams to supplement their core business. However, as Glance’s lockscreen platform gained traction, coupled with its privacy stance, a growing number of smartphone makers have acknowledged its potential as a powerful tool for differentiation, industry executives say.

Glance doesn’t collect personal data of users, instead relying on usage pattern to inform its recommendation engine. It’s also working with Qualcomm to build a unique AI-powered lockscreen experience, according to one source. That partnership, if it materializes, will also allow Glance to significantly reduce the data it consumes for its personalized feed and also move much of the processing to on-device.

In the U.S., Glance doesn’t plan to display ads on the lockscreen, according to one of the sources. Glance ships pre-installed on the device, but can be easily removed.

Lockscreen and other non-app screens are becoming crucial real-estates for smartphone vendors and brands. “‘Surfaces’ exist even today, driven by 3 types of players — OEM-driven, OS-driven, and surface-first innovation driven,” BCG wrote in a recent industry report. “Players like Glance are the most interesting of the lot w.r.t. innovation in AI deployed, to serve relevant content for a user every single time.”

Glance’s lockscreen platform today reaches more than 450 million smartphones and is active on about 300 million of them, according to a person familiar with the matter.

In the U.S., the eponymous startup plans to tie-up with more telecom operators as well as brands including CNN and the NBA, sources said, requesting anonymity as the details are private. The recently launched Moto G Power smartphone in the U.S. shipped with Glance’s platform. A Glance spokesperson declined to comment.

Glance has been eyeing to launch in the U.S. for at least two years, TechCrunch earlier reported. It’s not clear why it didn’t launch in the U.S. sooner.

The Indian startup’s lockscreen technology has already proven successful in driving user engagement and app installations for brand partners. A nine-week partnership with Indian streaming service JioCinema last year resulted in 9 million incremental app installs from over 100 million unique impressions, BCG wrote. The campaign also targeted dormant users, leading to a 12.5% increase in app opens and converting the install base into daily active users, the report added.

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