Here in the U.S. (and especially in San Francisco), it’s easy to forget that most of the world doesn’t have iPhones, BlackBerrys, Android phones, and the like. Much of the world doesn’t even have access to them, and if they did, they are often way too expensive to actually get one. Should those people be without mobile access to services like Twitter and Facebook? Microsoft doesn’t think so.
Today, it is launching OneApp, an app for people running J2ME on their phones with slow processors and not a lot of memory. Basically, it’s a lightweight app that lets you run more intensive apps by grabbing just the basics of that app that you need. And OneApp also offloads some of the processes required to use the larger apps to Microsoft servers, which handle it over the cloud.
Microsoft is launching OneApp as a part of the mibli consumer mobile service, in partnership with Blue Label Telecoms in South Africa. It will be a free download (though data rates may apply). Initially, there will be a dozen larger apps that OneApp can optimize, including the aforementioned Twitter and Facebook. Others include Windows Live Messenger, and RSS reader, and some games.
Microsoft is hardly the only company making moves to bring some of the more advanced bells and whistles of the mobile web to the emerging world. The core idea behind the recently (and somewhat accidentally) unveiled Facebook Lite is to make Facebook available in places like India and Russia.
It makes sense for companies to take these extra steps to make apps available in places with less technology as it’s not only the right thing to do, but it represents the areas with the most growth potential. OneApp is a part of Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential initiative.