Text-Only Version Of Twitter Coming To Emerging Countries Next Year
December 8, 2013

Text-Only Version Of Twitter Coming To Emerging Countries Next Year

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Twitter has announced a partnership with a Singapore-based start-up to bring its microblogging services to mobile customers with devices that are not capable of accessing the Internet, Reuters and other media outlets reported late last week.

According to CNET’s Nick Statt, the social media website and U2opia will be rolling out a text-only Twitter offering that does not require a data plan. The partnership will be focused on emerging markets and is due out sometime in the first quarter of 2014.

“Using the USSD, or Unstructured Supplementary Service Data, protocol that allows mobile phones to communicate with a service provider's computers, U2opia will be able to serve local trending topics to users who dial in a code thanks to a partnership with the social network. USSD does not allow the display of images or video,” Statt explained.

The company currently uses the USSD service known as Fonetwish to allow 11 million customers to access Facebook and Google Talk on mobile phones without a data connection, Reuters’ Sruthi Ramakrishnan reported on Thursday. Once the Twitter service is launched, users will only need to input a simple code in order to access a list of the topics currently trending on the social network.

“Twitter has grown their company that is now popular enough to boast a staggering 218 million world-wide users. Users in the US only account for 20 percent of Twitter’s new-customer growth,” Brent Matsalla of the Las Vegas Guardian Express said. “This slow of new-customer growth in the US, is because Twitter has now penetrated at satisfactory numbers in the US market.

“To maximize new growth potential, Twitter is concentrating on countries with smaller existing numbers of users,” he added. “To increase their users, Twitter has already been partnering with small regional telecommunication carriers to bring their service to those without data capabilities. Pakistan’s Mobilink has already offered the service to their pre-paid customers earlier this year. Similar deals have been completed in India also.”

U2opia is currently available in 30 countries and seven different languages, Ramakrishnan said, and their largest markets are in Africa and South America. Eighty percent of customers in emerging nations still have phones that cannot access data, and the company plans to localize the Twitter feeds based on each user’s location.

“Somebody in Paraguay would definitely get content that would be very, very localized to that market vis-a-vis somebody sitting in Mumbai or Bangalore,” U2opia Chief Executive and Co-founder Sumesh Menon told Reuters. “For a lot of end users in the emerging markets, it's going to be their first Twitter experience.”