biNu Opens Its Feature Phone Platform To Third Party Apps, Starting With Romance Publisher Harlequin

biNu, a startup that brings apps and content to feature phones and lower-end smartphones, is announcing the first partner in its third-party platform. And that partner isn’t just another tech company — instead, biNu is working with the UK division of romance publisher Harlequin to offer 8,700 books, including the romance titles published by its Mills & Boon subsidiary, in the biNu app.

The startup is backed by Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures. The company says it brings apps like Facebook and YouTube to an audience of 5 million active members, but for the most part it builds those apps itself. Now other companies can use biNu technology to bring their apps to the feature phones that remain dominant in parts of Asia, Africa and South America.

Even though biNu has been adding more social features, its initial focus was on distributing content, so from that perspective the Harlequin partnership makes sense. Through the deal, Mills & Boon now has a branded store in the biNu app, and people can use biNu Credits to make their purchases.

In the press release announcing the partnership, Tim Cooper, commercial director for Harlequin (UK), described this as “a real opportunity for us to reach women in global markets who don’t have access to high end tablet or smartphone technology.” And biNu co-founder and CEO Gour Lentell said there’s “an immense hunger for books, and particularly romance fiction” in the developing world.

Other companies interested in partnering with biNu should email