Deepak Ravindran, an Indian entrepreneur, found himself having to answer a question one day with access only to an older mobile phone—one that lacked the “intelligence” found in today’s smartphones. Being unable to use the Internet to answer a quick question pushed Ravindran was inspired to build an algorithm that would allow owners of rudimentary phones to still get Internet information—quickly.
Enter SMSGyan, a service that allows users to text a question and receive an answer. Once a question is received, the company’s algorithm is used to scour the Web to find the right answer and return it in text message form.
In a country where 700 million people lacked Internet access, SMSGyan brought 120 million of them into the digital age.
But once Android phones became available in India, however, many citizens upgraded to these inexpensive and intelligent smartphones. SMSGyan quickly become a thing of the past, at least in India. Ravindran understood this evolution, and began looking for other markets for his product.
There was a lot of interest, especially from countries in Africa and Southeast Asia, Ravindran reported, but this time around, with this launch, his company decided to take a different approach.
“The time is right for us to take the bold action of making our offline Internet service free, and we are going even further by committing to post the source code for free,” Ravindran says. “By giving away the source code, we can ignite the creative energies of the entire developer community and fuel unprecedented levels of innovation in the SMS market.”
The Indian entrepreneur says the decision to go open source provides three benefits: Customers get access to better technology, developers are able to explore a whole new market opportunity and the business gets to license the product to telecom operators. And already, operators in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Nigeria and Kenya have expressed interest.
Thanks to Ravindran, many people will be able to take advantage of a mobile Internet of sorts, even without a smartphone. It’s about time.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: Open Source is Making ‘Dumb’ Phones Smart in India
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