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U2opia Mobile To Launch USSD Based Twitter Service; Why?

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Mobile solutions provider U2opia Mobile will be launching Twitter service via USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) on its Fonetwish platform in the first quarter of next year, U2opia Co-founder and CEO Sumesh Menon has told Reuters.

While the details on this service is a bit sparse at the moment, Menon says users will have to dial a specific code to access a feed of all the popular trending topics on Twitter. An AllThingsD report also suggests that users will receive relevant localized tweets based on their existing location. It’s currently not clear if users will be able to send tweets or carry out other actions like view their mentions, direct messages and lists among others.

The idea here seems to be reaching out to non-Internet users who have entry-level mobile phones and who might be interested in receiving updates from their preferred news source or their favorite celebrity. Remember that, Twitter had previously mentioned that 40% of its active users log in to simply read what’s happening in the world, and hadn’t sent a single tweet. This service could therefore allow Twitter to increase its user base. Menon told PTI (via The Economic Times) that he expects this service to strengthen Twitter’s user base in India and other emerging countries like Paraguay, Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nigeria, and Ghana.

Why USSD? However, its already 2013 (and going to be 2014 in less than month) and we are surprised as to why web service companies are still considering services through old-world channels like USSD, thereby limiting the user experience. Especially, considering that Twitter is slowly transitioning towards more richer content like pictures and videos which wouldn’t be available through this service since USSD supports only text content.

Facebook-U2opia Tie-up: U2opia had launched a similar service for Facebook on Airtel in May 2011. The service was jointly developed by Facebook and enabled users to update status messages, post on their friends’ wall, view, comment-on and like news-feeds, find and add friends, confirm friend requests and also get notifications. U2opia claims that the service is currently being used by 11 million consumers.

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