Chatbox Aims to Bring IM to Africa
ForgetMeNot Africa has launched a Java application that offers "a smartphone-style internet messaging experience" on mid-range handsets in Africa.
The service, called Chatbox, uses ForgetMeNot Africa's Message Optimiser technology to convert internet messages into SMS format, and vice-versa, providing chat functionality on even the most basic of phones.
Message Optimiser has been deployed by six operators in five countries across east, west, southern and central Africa, and provides more than 47.5m people with access to internet messaging services on any basic mobile phone, says ForgetMeNot.
The company is also working with handset makers including Sony Ericsson to launch the app to operators and encourage subscribers in non-smartphone markets to adopt mobile data services.
Users will then be able to browse Facebook, 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.
Jeremy George, COO at ForgetMeNot Africa, says: "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."