Low-cost Facebook for Africa by ForgetMeNot

Jeremy_George.eJeremy George, Chief Operating Officer, ForgetMeNot AfricaUnique Java app enables low-cost smartphone-style Facebook, email and online chat on mid-range handsets in Africa

Called “Chatbox”, the app uses ForgetMeNot Africa’s award-winning Message Optimiser technology which converts internet messages into SMS format and vice-versa. Message Optimiser has already been deployed by six operators in five countries across east, west, southern and central Africa, providing more than 47.5mn people with access to internet messaging services on any basic mobile phone. Chatbox is an enhanced messaging service, providing a richer, more user-friendly Facebook, email and online chat experience for java enabled handset owners.
ForgetMeNot Africa is working with mobile handset manufacturers, including Sony Ericsson, to launch the app to operators and encourage subscribers in non-smartphone markets to adopt mobile data services. Users will be able to browse their Facebook updates, access Facebook Chat, update their profiles, ‘like’ their friends’ statuses and comment on threads, as well as send and receive emails and messages on chat services like MSN, Yahoo! and GTalk – all via the Chatbox app.

Filling a gap
Chatbox fills the gap between basic SMS messaging and smartphone messaging. The service has a simple to use interface that introduces smartphone-style messaging to people with little knowledge or understanding of mobile internet services, people who can’t afford high-end handsets and people who are worried about connecting to the Internet via a mobile phone.
Nearly half of the entire African population (45.2 per cent) now have a mobile phone subscription yet only 2.5 per cent of people across the continent have access to mobile mbroadband, according to the latest ITU figures for 2010. Chatbox enables people to access internet messaging via SMS in even the most remote parts of Africa, bypassing the need for mobile connectivity or fixed telephone line internet access.

New messaging generation
Jeremy George, Chief Operating Officer at ForgetMeNot Africa, said: “ForgetMeNot Africa’s award-winning technology enables handset manufacturers such as Sony Ericsson and mobile operators to work in partnership to bridge the digital divide in Africa and create a new messaging generation of young Africans. The demand for more access to services like Facebook, email and online chat services like MSN, Yahoo! and GTalk is incredible across Africa. Now handsets that support Java can have frequent access to the online social networking revolution.
“Chatbox is a cost-effective, fun and lifestyle improving innovation that looks and feels like a smartphone messaging experience but with the simplicity and cost-effective benefits of SMS. People who currently only have access to the Internet at work, at college or in internet cafés can now get online and stay in touch with their friends and family all over the world via Facebook, email and online chat whenever and wherever they like, all from the palm of their hand.”

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