Rating: No need for mobile internet let alone a smartphone
A new service recently launched in the Caribbean’s Dominican Republic has showed hot it is possible to expand popular online services to low income mobile subscribers. The new service is called vSocial and is being offered by the local mobile network operator,VIVA, to its 700,000 subscribers. The service is based on software supplied by ForgetMeNot Software and enables regular handsets to use ‘internet-free apps’ to send and receive internet messaging on any GSM phone with SMS.“People across the island now have access to internet-free Facebook, email and online chat apps on any mobile phone at any time, all from the palm of their hand,” commented Jose Holguin, manager for value added services with VIVA.
The stats for the Dominican Republic are extremely interesting. Nearly 40 per cent of the Dominican Republic’s 10 million inhabitants have access to the internet, of which 2.2 million are on Facebook, for example.
Although there are 90 mobile subscriptions to every 100 people, only 2.4 per cent of the population have a mobile internet subscription, according to figures supplied by Internet World Stats.
The VIVA deployment instantly triples that figure, ForgetMeNot claims, transforming even the most basic mobile handset into a virtual smartphone.
vSocial is built on ForgetMeNot Software’s Optimiser Platform, which provides internet-free apps that convert Facebook actions and updates, emails and messages from chat services like Windows Live Messenger and GTalk into SMS and USSD format, and vice-versa.
Thanks to vSocial mobile subscribers can participate on Facebook without the need for internet connections;contracts; high-end smartphones; software downloads; or even data connections.
Paul Roberts, a director with ForgetMeNot Software, observed, “The internet-free mobile app environment provides the opportunity to change the relationship that mobile subscribers in Latin America and across the world have with their phones, regardless of the make or model of the handsets.”
ForgetMeNot started to roll out its software services in Africa and targets the three billion or so mobile subscribers around the world who do not typically have the advantage of widespread internet and data access.