With over 230 million users worldwide, Twitter still aims to reach out to more people. Soon, it would be available to users even if they are not online. Moreover, access to the microblogging site would soon be possible even if the user is not using a smartphone. This makes it ideal for more people across the emerging markets who are still using the entry-level handsets.
Twitter Inc has announced that it is forming a partnership with Singapore’s U2opia Mobile. The alliance would make the popular messaging service finally available to users who could not access the Internet. The new service is planned to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2014.
U2opia Mobile is a telecom startup but has already established presence in 30 countries around the world. Its services currently cater to seven international languages. The company’s biggest markets to date are South America and Africa. It also has partnerships with other telecom networks like Vodafone, Bharti Airtel Ltd, and Telenor.
How it works
To access Twitter through entry-level phones and even without the Internet, users should simply text a simple code. In an instant, they would receive feeds about popular and current trending topics on the Website. It is that simple. This early, it is not clear how much users would have to spend just to receive that information.
The new service would use a technology that is unique to U2opia. It is a protocol called ‘Unstructured Supplementary Service Data’ or USSD. It conveys information without sending videos, pictures, or other graphics. To analysts, USSD is perfect for Twitter because of the text-driven social capability and the usual character limit (140 characters).
To date, U2opia has a special service called Fonetwish. It facilitates access to Facebook and even to Google Talk using mobile phones without online data connection. The service now has over 11 million users in emerging markets. The service to be launched for Twitter would have a similar structure. In fact, the tie-up between U2opia and Twitter would be the same as the present alliance between U2opia and Facebook Inc.
Even in this modern age, when smartphones are most popular, it is estimated that eight in every 10 people particularly in the emerging markets are still using entry-level or feature phones that do not access data online. But that should not deter more users from enjoying the Twitter experience offline.