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MediaTek, Twitter team up on emerging market feature phone project

The bulk of the Internet-connected handsets sold in developing countries are cheaper feature phones rather than expensive smartphones, but that doesn't mean users don't want access to popular social platforms like Twitter on the phone they can afford.

So the microblogging service and feature phone chipset-maker MediaTek are teaming up to do something about it, the two companies said yesterday.

"The mobile Internet presents a great opportunity for Twitter to reach every person on the planet. Our partnership with MediaTek will help people in emerging markets enjoy the same rich Twitter experience on their mobile devices as more than 140 million others around the world," Twitter's vice president of business development Jana Messerschmidt said in a statement.

MediaTek, a fabless semiconductor company based in Taiwan, will begin pre-loading Twitter's mobile application in its own MRE middleware used in feature phone reference designs. That's similar to the way MediaTek integrated Facebook access into its middleware several months ago, according to the Taipei Times. The upshot is that MediaTek-based feature phones will provide "a rich native application experience of Twitter consistent with smartphone applications like Twitter for iPhone or Twitter for Android," according to the company.

The first MediaTek feature phone System-on-a-Chip (SoC) to feature the Twitter integration will be the forthcoming MediaTek MT6255 chipset, the company said. MediaTek will also extend the Twitter service preload across all its mobile SoCs going forward.

Some 70 per cent of handsets sold in emerging markets are feature phones, according to research cited by MediaTek. With those markets set to account for 60 per cent of the overall mobile market by 2013, solutions like the Twitter middleware integration make good business sense, the company said.

"Our new partnership with Twitter further reinforces MediaTek's focus on providing differentiated services and value for handset brands, giving them the means to offer affordable, compelling and differentiated mobile solutions to consumers in key emerging markets ," MediaTek corporate vice president Cheng-Te Chuang said.

MediaTek may be known for low-cost chipsets for the feature phone market, but the company has also been making some plays in the smartphone space of late. Last month, MediaTek rolled out new dual-core chips for budget to mid-level smartphones, part of the company's plan to seize a bigger chunk of the smartphone market in 2012.