You may not be familiar with USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) but there's a good chance you've used it before -- by dialing *225# (or something similar) to check the balance on your account. Just like SMS, it's a protocol baked into every GSM phone. Unlike SMS, it allows session-based, real-time communication between a handset and an operator's USSD gateway -- without the store and forward mechanism required for text messaging. Basically, it's a simple way to enable data connectivity on phones without deploying an actual data network and while it's pretty slow, it may be monetized.
We met with Myriad's VP of Business Development Olivier Bartholot at Mobile World Congress who gave us a demo of Myriad Updates, a solution based on the company's Xumii back-end that delivers social networking services like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to any GSM handset via USSD. This means no data plan is required and there's no app to install or cumbersome SMS-based UI to deal with. Myriad's partnering with Vodafone, Orange and Mobinil to provide social networking access to customers in emerging markets who may be using very low-end devices (like the Nokia C1 above) with limited or no data functionality. Hands-on video and PR after the break.
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Myriad Updates on Track to Deliver Mobile Social Networking to Over 1 Billion Mobile Users by End of 2012
• Orange, Vodafone and Mobinil follow Telefónica and select Myriad Group to power Social Mobile – bringing Facebook & Twitter to Africa and other emerging markets
• Leading carrier signs over 50,000 paying subscribers in first week of launch
• Myriad recognized as Finalist for Best Consumer Mobile Service in 2012 GSMA Global Mobile Awards
ZURICH, Switzerland – February 16, 2012 – Myriad Group AG (SIX: MYRN), the company powering billions of rich mobile social and web experiences on any connected device, today announces Myriad Updates is being deployed with leading carriers Vodafone, Orange and Mobinil.
Gaining significant commercial momentum, Myriad Updates has been selected by Orange to deliver Facebook to Africa. With only one in every 32 phones being a smartphone in the region, Myriad is opening up new markets and creating huge revenue opportunities for carriers. For instance, in the first week of launch one carrier signed over 50,000 paying subscribers to their social networking service. Being one of the few companies to successfully monetize social experiences on the mobile devices, Myriad has attracted very strong interest from carriers in both developed and emerging markets. With such a strong pipeline, Myriad is on track to deliver social networking services to over 1 billion mobile users by end of 2012.
See Myriad Updates at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where it is shortlisted for "Best Consumer Mobile Service" at the GSMA Global Mobile Awards or view the demo before MWC on Myriad's YouTube Channel.
Available on nearly any mobile phone, subscribers who have limited or no access to data can connect to their favorite social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr via Myriad Updates. Powered by Myriad's mobile social networking platform, Xumii, Myriad Updates presents a person's social network activity on the screen as text using the USSD bearer, thus enabling users to stay connected without having to install an app or requiring a data plan.
Myriad's deep heritage in embedded software and unique ability to deliver end-to-end solutions, including the integration of social networking into mass-market phones, enables carriers to rapidly deliver cutting edge services while creating new revenue opportunities, even in emerging markets where many consumers own lower-end mobile devices.
"Myriad Updates is bringing Facebook and Twitter to the millions of users in emerging markets without data plans, driving monetization of mobile social experiences and putting carriers back into the social networking game," said Simon Wilkinson, CEO of Myriad Group. "Myriad is opening up new markets and creating huge revenue opportunities. Signing up over 50,000 subscribers in just one week indicates the powerful demand for these services and clearly positions Myriad as the leading provider and innovator of social networking solutions for mobile carriers."
Myriad Updates has also been recently recognized as a Finalist in the 2012 GSMA Global Mobile Awards for the Best Consumer Mobile Service. "We are delighted to be recognized by one of the most coveted awards in the industry. We believe that Myriad Updates has the potential to be a major driver for social networking as growth in markets with low PC penetration quickly plateaus," added Wilkinson.