There's money in smarts for dumb phones

Eric Schmidt sends cash to apps-for-feature-phones pioneer

Nokia 1208

Australian mobile app platform developer BiNU has captured the interest and US$2 million in funding from Eric Schmidt’s investment vehicle TomorrowVentures, former Seek founder and serial entrepreneur Paul Bassat and a number of US private investors.

BiNu, created in Australia by tech entrepreneurs and former OzEmail executives Gour Lentell and Dave Turner, allows non- smartphones and low end handsets to have access to smartphone and web app services.

The cloud based platform was launched 18 months ago and now boats four million active monthly users globally, mostly in emerging markets.

Early backer Bassat said that BiNu is attacking a massive market, showing extremely strong growth in its subscriber base .”It is making an enormous difference to the lives of people in the developing world by providing them with a rich internet experience.”

The platform has strong traction in emerging markets where mobile handsets are the only conduit to the internet yet users find cost high end devices a barrier to entry. BiNu works across Android and Java offering 100 channels and social media sites access with the added feature of local translation. The company will use the funds as a springboard to open US office and secure more Silicon Valley funding.

“BiNu set out to give the four or five billion people who don’t have top end smartphones or reliable high bandwidth cellular networks a great mobile internet experience,“ said CEO Lentell.

He said that the services has grown far faster than expected and in many emerging markets has become mobile social community of its own. “20 million book pages were read on biNu last month, the majority by people who struggle to get their hands on physical books, let alone e-books,” he added. ®

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