Microsoft revs up low-budget mobile phones

SAN FRANCISCO, August 24, 2009 (AFP) – Microsoft on Monday unveiled software that lets Twitter, Facebook and other hot Internet services be delivered to low-cost “feature phones” common in developing countries. The US technology giant will debut OneApp in South Africa and hopes to swiftly roll it out in India, China and other countries where millions of people use feature phones instead of powerful smartphones.

“We designed OneApp from the ground up on feature phones with very limited memory and processing capabilities,” said Amit Mital, corporate vice president of the Unlimited Potential Group and Startup Business Accelerator at Microsoft.

“OneApp will be able to help people do things they couldn’t do before with their feature phone — anything from paying their bills to helping diagnose their health issues or just staying connected with friends and family.”

Feature phones typically combine calling capabilities with one or two other functions such as playing music or games.

Such devices rely on General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) networks with users unable to browse the Internet and typically paying as they go to download data.

In contrast, smartphones are essentially pocket-si