Mibli Launches together with Microsoft one App

2009 September 14
by Ismail Dhorat

mibliBlue Label Telecoms, a local South African company has launched a subsidiary and service called Mibli which is powered by Microsoft’s OneApp. The launch seems to be a partnership between Microsoft & Mibli. Interestingly,  Microsoft has invested in Blue Label Telecoms and has a 12% stake in the company.

What is OneApp?

OneApp is a mobile application platform that gives users using ‘feature phones’ that normally do  not have the capability to install applications the ability  to run applications those of us using smart phones have enjoyed for a while. Examples include Facebook, Twitter, RSS etc. The platform allows application/services to be hosted in the cloud, and has a client application that runs on the phone, which is just 150KB.

Feature phones outnumber smart-phones, especially in the developing world such as Africa and usually these phones do not have capabilities to run some demanding applications and are usually limited to basic Java apps. The OneApp solution aims to change that by hosting services and applications on the cloud.

mibli interface

Some of the default services that have been included are Facebook, Twitter, RSS, MSN, Chat & a mobile wallet. I was actually invited to the launch of this service and the premise and service seems interesting enough, bringing internet services to people who may not even have access to computers.

Initially i could not test the service since the Iphone does not support Java applications, though when i got home i downloaded and installed the application on a Nokia 5320, the application itself is tiny a mere 150KB. Though when trying to logon for the first time it just kept timing out. I am  guessing this was due to not being able to handle the influx of new users (It was the first day of the public launch).

I tried the the application the following day and was able to register and logon successfully, however i kept getting those security nag screens from nokia with each request made from the mibli application. (Literally every 5-10 seconds)

“Allow application mibli to use network and send or receive data?.”

Now, i am not sure if this is an issue with the application or the phone though i have tested other Java based applications and usually it only asks you the first time. Once you have accepted it connects without requesting you to confirm again. This nag screen makes the application pretty much unusable on my phone, as you have to constantly click “Yes”.

Other then that i managed to test the loading of a UKash voucher into the mobile wallet (The voucher was given to us at the launch) and this worked as advertised. I also tested out the facebook application which lets you update your status on Facebook from the mibli home screen, if you have a twitter account setup your status is sent to both the services. Another interesting feature is Instant messaging which includes public rooms. What will be the takeup of this remains to be seen, but Mxit normally charge for access to public chat rooms. With mibli this seems to be a free service and they may get new users just for this feature.

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