Microsoft quietly launched OneApp for feature phones yesterday, a mobile applications enabler that runs partially in the cloud. The program allows feature phone users to download and use smaller versions of applications such as Twitter, Facebook and Mobile Wallet that have traditionally been considered smartphone applications.
According to a press release, OneApp aims to keep the phone running quickly and efficiently. The software has a small footprint (150KB) and its apps are even smaller (about 30KB). OneApp includes a cloud service to deliver applications as they are needed. That means users can store and access their apps without needing to store them on the phone. Microsoft is really the first player to deliver, at least in part, on the cloud-based mobile application model.
The move offers a complement to Microsoft’s smartphone platform, Windows Mobile, and is an effort to capture the massive audience in emerging markets where a PC may not be an option for many. Blue Label Telecom’s “mibli” service in South Africa will be the first to offer users access to OneApp.
“What we’re letting you do is get access to the applications and services you want from a device you already own. If you don’t own a PC, or you share a PC, your mobile phone may be your first or only computing device,” said Tim McDonough, senior director of Mobile Product Management at Microsoft, in a press release.
Additionally, OneApp looks to take on the problem of fragmentation in the mobile applications space. Microsoft was quick to point out that OneApp allows independent software vendors to develop an application once and have it reach a wider audience and work on all feature phones that have OneApp installed, rather than developing and maintaining an app for 50 or 100 different kinds of phones.
There was no initial word on pricing or availability in the United States.