Microsoft Aims OneApp At Emerging Market Feature Phones

Knowing a massive untapped market when it sees it, Microsoft on Monday launched OneApp, a software application that enables feature phones (think Motorola Razr, for a good example), which are commonly found in emerging markets to have access to mobile apps that people like you and I have on our iPhones, Palm Pres, and BlackBerrys.

Think Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live Messenger, and those sorts of things. In order to run these apps on underpowered feature phones, Microsoft is leveraging the cloud to do much of the processing. OneApp will launch first with Blue Label Telecoms in South Africa.

Here's how Microsoft describes OneApp:
OneApp was designed from the ground up to enable mobile apps to be accessed by feature phones with limited memory and processing capability. For customers, OneApp appears on their phone as a single application where they can then easily access all of their mobile apps:
  • The OneApp lightweight on-phone footprint of just 150 KB makes the initial installation easy and fast.
  • OneApp dynamically launches just the parts of a mobile app that a person wants to use, eliminating additional installation time and the need for a person to store all of the mobile apps on the phone.
  • OneApp includes cloud services that help offload processing and storage from the phone to the Internet, improving overall performance.
  • OneApp uses data networks efficiently to reduce data access charges, saving money for the customer.
Customers in emerging markets can't afford to buy smartphones, so something like this could open a huge number of markets to these types of apps, and for once give Microsoft a leg up on other smartphone manufacturers. A recent analyst's report show Windows Mobile had dropped to 9% in terms of usage amongst smartphone platforms, trailing the Symbian, RIM, and iPhone's platforms.

Of course, OneApp still faces the challenge of apps written for Sun's J2ME. However, Microsoft feels that OneApp applications will be write-once, run everywhere apps, something not always doable with J2M3 applications.

Applications can be written in Javascript and XML, according to Microsoft's press release. Watch a Microsoft OneApp Demo With Tim McDonough, Senior Director, Unlimited Potential Group.