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Summary:

For residents in emerging countries where income can be under a dollar per day, a handset purchase can be a luxury. Dual-SIM phones are one solution to extend mobile devices in emerging areas, but Movirtu has a cloud solution that could give phone access to millions.

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In highly developed countries, it’s not uncommon for a majority of the population to have one or more mobile phones: Germany, for example, has 1.2 phones per person. For residents in emerging countries, however, where income can be under a dollar per day, a handset purchase is considered a luxury. Dual SIM handsets from Nokia and others are targeted for these specific markets, allowing two people to share the same phone. That’s one solution, but it pales in scope next to what Movirtu offers with its MX Share platform, which leverages the cloud to make millions of mobiles potentially sharable among a number of different people.

With MX Share, subscribers purchase airtime minutes, services and their own phone number, even if they have no phone. Using either a pay phone or someone else’s handset, a subscriber can log-in to their phone account to place prepaid calls, send text messages or check voicemail. No special handset or other hardware is required.

Essentially, the model is similar to sharing a computer through multiple accounts; sign in to get your data and use the device. The key difference is that the account management enabling handset use is handled in the cloud, not on the individual device. Discovery likens the approach to using web-based email, another communications method that people can use on practically any web-connected computing device.

The approach reminds me of Google Voice, which allows callers to reach me regardless of the phone I’m currently using. Of course, Movirtu’s product is geared to a different audience: individuals, families or villages that could benefit from sharing a single handset. Those who can afford a mobile device can also benefit by offering their handset to others due to Movirtu’s SharePaid feature — handset owners earn a small credit for allowing non-phone owners to borrow their device for calls or service. It’s a win for all parties involved.

Nigel Waller, Founder and CEO of Movirtu, explains the value both to individual consumers and mobile operators in this video from last year.

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  1. CN YOU SAY CALLING CARD?

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    1. Yep , Thats what I was thinking when i read abt this … cant u simply call it a claling card ? :)

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      1. Nope. You don’t have a receiving account with Calling cards. Here, this is somewhat an equivalent of webmail :)

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  2. In my opinion , it would have been a nice idea some 6-7 years ago when Mobile phones were expensive and not easily available.

    Now a days, even in poorest parts of the world, people’s first buy is a Mobile phone because they quickly recover their investment using it.
    I doubt if it will fly. But If the same idea can be somehow used in network spectrum optimization, it may attract some serious attention from operators and vendors.

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  3. how is this different from swapping GSM SIM cards?

    and remember the first GSM SIM cards were the size of credit cards and easily slid in and out of the bottom of the phones. now they are smaller but still pretty easy to swap.

    swapping SIM cards sure seems a lot simpler than having to login with a username and password or however this would work.

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    1. This solution doesn’t require carrying a small, easy to lose SIM card.

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      1. Well, you can always carry your sim card in a cell phone sized case…

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  4. Armchair philosopher Sunday, October 24, 2010

    This is half-smart idea. The value of cell phone is in both making calls (which this one addresses) and receiving calls.

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  5. *yawn* it is calling cards…

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  6. [...] which operates in India and Southeast Asia, to expand its services and move into new markets. Kevin covered the company’s MX Share platform last month and explained the concept in this way: With MX Share, subscribers purchase airtime minutes, [...]

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