How the Cloud Can Enable Shared Phones For Millions


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.


Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub. req.):


Comments have been disabled for this post