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Dublin firm to target African mobile users

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An Irish provider of online mobile data synchronisation solutions aims to target mobile phone users in emerging markets in Africa.

SIMchronise, a Dublin-based start-up, showcased its wares to investors at this week's Goodbody Stockbrokers SummIT 2006 event. The firm is hopeful that it can secure €1.8m over two years so it can attempt to win over users in one of the world's fastest growing mobile markets.

"Up to now we've funded ourselves and we can afford to do so for another six months at least, but we're looking to secure funding from venture capitalists in order to fully exploit the opportunities that exist for SIMchronise overseas," chief executive Phillipe Joly said.

The company, which offers solutions that allow users to synchronise mobile phones with secure web-based accounts that back-up valuable data, is confident its service will prove popular on a continent which boasts an estimated 85m mobile phone users.

SIMchronise's products uses SyncML, an XML based standards for data synchronisation. Mobile users don't have to have up-to-date handsets with Bluetooth or Infrared connectivity in order to use the company's solutions.

Each user can back up their phone's contacts, calendar, tasks and notes onto their web-based account and also add new contacts to their phonebook. Crucially, users can then access the account to retrieve such information if they mislay their mobile.

The company has recently held talks with mobile network operators in a number of African countries including South Africa and Namibia. Many of these operators are interested in offering SIMchronise's solutions as a value-add service to their subscribers.

Joly told ElectricNews.Net that operators in Africa believe the company's products could not only help reduce churn by providing a real incentive to aid customer retention, but may also potentially increase ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) through increased data traffic.

"There's been an awful lot of interest in SIMchronise from operators in Africa and we're hoping to take advantage of this by establishing an office in South Africa by the end of 2006 or beginning of 2007," Joly said.

In addition to targeting mobile operators in Africa, the company has also teamed up with a German firm to offer a service called "GetBackUp". Closer to home, the company is about to launch Ireland's first mobile back-up service. PhoneBackUp.ie, which is to go live mid-April, will charge individual customers €2 per month to subscribe to the service.

Joly, who established SIMchronise in 2005 alongside David Inglis and Frederic de Mont-Serrat, is a technology entrepreneur nominated in 2005 for a Net Visionary Award in the "Internet Entrepreneur" category. This was for one of his other ventures, Prepay.ie, a website which offers an alternative payment mechanism to credit cards.

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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