Smartphone applications are perhaps the hottest area for startups nowadays, but what about people who don’t a mobile data plan? San Diego startup Shorthand says that in India, for example, smartphones still have low penetration, so the best way to reach its population is on lower-end feature phones — that’s why the company is announcing what it calls an “SMS-based mobile browser”.
Shorthand’s browser won’t allow users to navigate the entire mobile Web, but it does create a visual, app-style layout for content that would normally require the use of short codes or keywords to navigate.
The company says that it can create an “SMS App” for any content provider who offers an application programming interface. Existing partners include Yelp, Citysearch, Google, MapQuest, Wikipedia, and many others. And again, all of the data is sent through an SMS plan, so a more expensive data plan isn’t required.
The browser is free and currently available in India, Brazil, and the United States. The company says it has plans for further expansion in Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa, and parts of Europe. (The company is partnering with SMS social network SMS GupShup, which launched its own app store last year, for distribution in India.)
Shorthand is self-funded.