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Microsoft's OneApp Is Feature Phone Upgrade Offering OS-Like Functions

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Microsoft this week announced the release of OneApp, a free offering for feature phones that provides access to applications like Facebook and Twitter without using up much memory. Aimed at mobile users in emerging markets, OneApp will launch with South African operator Blue Label Telecoms and ship with more than a dozen mobile apps.

Taking up just 150 KB of space, OneApp uses the cloud to launch only the parts of an app someone is using so they don't have to store the entire app on their phone. While OneApp is initially geared toward emerging regions, it's possible feature phone makers in the U.S. will eventually seize on the software to better compete with smartphones.

Because they don't have their own operating systems, feature phones typically don't offer the range of functionality as smartphones. An NPD report last week found that while regular phones are increasingly taking on the physical features of smartphones, like Qwerty keyboards and touchscreens, they still lag when it comes to mobile Web access and applications.

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Something like OneApp could help feature phones close that gap by giving users all-in-one access to popular mobile apps within the limits of phones' memory and processing capabilities. Feature phones still account for the vast majority of phones in the U.S. but smartphones are fast gaining ground, accounting for 28% of phone sales in the second quarter.

Microsoft said it plans to offer the product through partners worldwide and will release the OneApp software development kit by year's end.

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