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MICROSOFT India has picked up 20% stake in mobile application provider Affle, chief executive of Affle said. The company is also in advanced stages to close an acquisition deal with an Indian VAS player. “Microsoft’s investment is important to us. We will be able to expand in regions like Europe, US and Australia where we don’t have any presence,” Affle CEO Anuj Khanna said. Earlier, the company had received investments worth $10 million from Singapore-based PE firms and some individual investors in India.

Affle provides the SMS 2.0 service to customers through the Airtel network and recently tied up with Idea cellular. SMS 2.0 is an upgraded version of the SMS service. It allows the user to type in coloured text and add animated icons.

Affle is also in advanced talks with other existing operators like Vodafone and Reliance communications to make the service available to a larger user base. With Microsoft coming on board, Affle will integrate its product with Windows Live services and MSN content on cell phone.

Affle has plans to leverage the investment from Microsoft for expanding its presence globally. It has plans to set up additional R&D facility at Mumbai and Bangalore. The company has close to 50 developers employed at its R&D centers and has plans to double its head count by the end of this fiscal. Affle is also identifying start-ups for investments.

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