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Myriad Launches Text-Based Social Networking Service

Users of mobile phones without data subscription plans will be able to access email, IM, and social network sites like Facebook and Twitter.

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Mobile-software developer Myriad Group on Monday launched Myriad Updates, a text-based social networking service designed to make mobile social networking, instant messaging, and email accessible to mobile phone users who do not have a data subscription, without the need to download or install an application.

Myriad Updates uses Myriad's Xumii platform, which enables telecommunications operators to provide social networking services over USSD (unstructured supplementary service data) and SMS (short message service), the company said. Operators such as Telefonica use Xumii to deploy services in weeks, Myriad said. Consumers then can tap popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Flickr via Myriad Updates, according to the developer.

"Hot on the heels of our partnership with Telefonica, Myriad will continue to react quickly to rising market demand to further expand the addressable market for operators. Through Myriad Updates, operators can enable mobile users with no access to data services to connect with each other and the world around them for the first time," said Simon Wilkinson, Myriad CEO, in a statement.

In many developing nations, mobile phone ownership is three-times higher than PC ownership, according to a December 2010 report by On Device Research. By 2012, 1 billion people are expected to use mobile social networking, said eMarketer. Indeed, there are more than 4 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide; of these, there are 1.7 million in Asia, 460 million in Latin America, and 376 million in sub-Saharan Africa, said Jenny Aker, a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development in a blog post.

Under terms of the deal it inked with Telefonica in April 2010, Myriad was chosen to provide social networking aggregation services to the telecommunications giant's mobile subscribers across 12 countries in Latin America. As a result, phone users now can access multiple social networks, via mobile browsers, downloadable apps, and other mobile technologies.

"Latin American consumers are enthusiastic users of social networks. This agreement will bring them a compelling and affordable way to access these sites from their mobile phones," said Luis Miguel Gilperez Lopez, managing director of the mobile division of Telefonica Latin America, in a statement at the time. "One of the most appealing aspects of Myriad is its focus on mass-market phones rather than just high-end devices, which will enable Telefonica to reach the widest possible audience and make the most of this exciting opportunity."

In North America, about 30% of U.S. mobile users had a smartphone by the end of 2010, according to Nielsen. And by 2015, 43% of mobile users will be making their calls via smartphone phone,

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