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Twitter Angling For More International Users

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, December 6 2013

Twitter on any phone, even the 'dumb' ones (Flickr/Angga Satriya)

Twitter is following Facebook and Google's lead in creating an avenue for feature or "dumb" phone users to access their service, even without an Internet connection. They have partnered with the Singapore-based company U2opia Mobile, Reuters reports.

Chief executive and co-founder of U2opia Mobile, Sumesh Menon, told Reuters that they will launch the Twitter service next year.

U2opia Mobile already helps more than 11 million people access Facebook and Google Talk through their Fonetwish service without using data.

This is a video introduction showing users how to access Facebook with Fonetwish. The Twitter service will presumably work similarly.

Twitter has kicked their international strategy into high gear this year. They have already partnered with telecommunication companies in countries like Pakistan to allow users to tweet without using up data, which can be prohibitively expensive for many.

In terms of world dominance, Facebook is still miles ahead of Twitter. On the other hand, a simple text-based interface—like that provided by U2opia—is perfect for Twitter.

Fonetwish uses Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) which does not allow for the sharing of photos or videos.

"USSD as a vehicle for Twitter is almost hand in glove because Twitter has by design a character limit, it's a very text-driven social network," Menon told Reuters.

Although Twitter is dominated by U.S.-based users, the ratio of Twitter users to Internet users in the United States is much lower than in other countries.

A study by PeerReach found that Saudi Arabia actually has the highest Twitter-users to Internet-users ratio: a whopping 32 percent. Indonesia, Spain, Venezuela, Argentina, the U.K. and the Netherlands all have higher percentages of Twitter-users than the United States.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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