Yesterday Microsoft announced the launch of OneApp.  It was developed by Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Group.  UPG has been doing some great work on Shared PCs, digital literacy, and computers in education. This is one of UPG’s first big efforts in the mobile space.

Microsoft OneApp is a new software application that enables feature phones—commonly found in emerging markets—to access mobile apps like Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live Messenger, and other popular apps and games. Now, people around the world who own feature phones will be able to do more and enjoy a better mobile experience with their existing phones. Microsoft OneApp will be offered initially through partners in emerging markets worldwide.

If you have seen or read any of my research in the past (particularly this newer stuff on mobile-centric internet use), you’ll quickly see why I am excited about OneApp. 

Smartphones are fantastic but remain out of reach of most people in the world. Feature phones, on the other hand, are more broadly accessible.  OneApp is small (150KB download), and runs on many of the world’s most popular handsets. It makes it much easier and cheaper, due to lower bandwidth requirements, for partners to offer and individuals to access the kinds of applications and web functionality that a lot of people with PCs take for granted. Furthermore, because it is flexible, I think we’ll see developers building locally-relevant applications, with the confidence that they can be used on the phones that so many people already have.