Smartphones are on the rise in emerging markets. With budget-conscious consumers in mind, Philippine carrier Smart Communications and Yahoo! are offering access to content and social networks for free.
Smart and Yahoo! quietly launched their partnership earlier this year through the SmartNet application available for Android users. SmartNet offers free access to Yahoo! Search, Mail and OMG, which smartphone users can access even with a minimum prepaid balance of just PhP 1.00.
“The new SmartNet is a game-changer — not only can Smart subscribers access Facebook and Twitter feeds for free, but they can now also enjoy Yahoo!’s amazing free web services,” said Mitch Padua, Smart’s head of product development for IP-based services, who added that the service is also accessible via non-smartphones through WAP and mobile web at http://smartnet.ph.
The app lets users maximize their smartphones’ capabilities without the worry of bill shock, Padua added. In particular, he highlighted the “Safe Browse” feature of the app, which enables access only to whitelisted sites and services. This is meant to limit access only to the network’s free services, so that the user does not rack up unnecessary mobile data charges.
Madhavi Tumkur of Yahoo! Southeast Asia earlier talked to e27, where she noted that Yahoo! services — such as Mail and Messenger — are particularly popular in the Philippines. She lauded Smart’s efforts in making these services more accessible to local users.
This effort is similar to Google’s launch of FreeZone in the Philippines in partnership with Globe. Smart’s SmartNet application goes further, though, by providing the option to selectively access the service for free even from smartphones. In contrast, Google’s FreeZone is designed for non-smartphones, as smartphones will inevitably “leak” data even when idle, therefore leading to charges.
In a statement, Smart said development of the SmartNet app for iOS and Windows Phone was underway. SmartNet is a free download on Google Play.