New tool kit extends Facebook, OpenSocial apps to mobile devices

Frengo offering can send applications to 1 billion mobile phones around the world

Frengo Wednesday announced the availability of its OpenSocial Mobile Toolkit, which expands on the capabilities of the company's mobile toolkit for Facebook. Developers can use the new tool to upgrade applications running on several social networks to support mobile devices.

Frengo said the new offering can provide applications to more than 1 billion mobile phones worldwide due to its support for all major US telecommunications carriers and a majority of global mobile carriers. The OpenSocial Mobile Toolkit will initially support developers building applications for social networks MySpace, Hi5, Orkut, Bebo and Facebook.

"Our services on Facebook attract millions of users, and we are excited to support OpenSocial networks and the thousands of developers building applications across that platform," said Mahi de Silva, Frengo CEO, in a statement. "We learned very quickly that social networking has no geographic boundaries and are especially excited about social networks extending the reach of fun, social experiences to places where the Internet is more likely to be accessed on a mobile phone than a PC. Mobility brings a level of intimacy and convenience, making it easy for people to stay connected in ways not possible on a PC."

The OpenSocial Toolkit includes SMS alerts and notifications, along with mobile Web services for WAP site hosting, handset recognition and transcoding to make it easy for developers to extend Web applications to mobile devices.

The tool set also provides the extended applications with an intuitive user experience, according to Frengo. For example, a consumer receives the following text message: "Your friend Eric just sent you a message. Click here to see more?" When the recipient clicks on the message containing a URL, he is sent to a WAP site where the message can be seen and responded to easily.

"Mobile phones are fast becoming an inseparable extension of teens and young adults today; using text to reach each other on their phones is an important form of social communication," said Vikrant Gandhi, analyst with IT research firm Frost & Sullivan. "Frengo's strategy of mobilizing existing, popular social networks is the next logical step in this fast growing market."

Frengo said the new tool also provides traffic monetization, advertising brokering and premium billing services, aimed at helping companies monetize their social applications and services, the company said.

Josh Catone, a blogger at Read Write Web, noted that the new Frengo tool kit will include slightly different bits of code for working with each social network. Developers, he said, have found slight code differences even in social networks supporting the OpenSocial APIs, which were created to allow single applications to run across multiple social networking sites.

Catone added that some day, the social networks themselves could move to build mobile functionality directly into their platforms.

"Both Facebook and MySpace have been pushing their mobile versions hard recently," he said. "MySpace just partnered with Sprint and Verizon, and RIM just announced a million Facebook users on Blackberry - and it is plausible that they could push developers to the mobile space themselves. Facebook especially has some serious mobile chops with Joe Hewitt on staff, whose iUI is already one of the most popular iPhone frameworks."

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Heather Havenstein

Computerworld

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