biNu feature phone platform funding

biNu, the startup that focuses on bringing first-class apps to developing markets, has just extended its feature-phone platform to include Android-powered devices.

This means that folks with spotty cell service and limited access to electricity will be able to use apps like Facebook, download ebooks, and watch video clips on YouTube without putting unnecessary strain on their already limited assets.

biNu’s feature phone app currently has more than 5 million monthly active users (MAUs), mostly in densely populated areas of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America, and India — markets where a feature phone is the predominant (and sometimes only) method of accessing the Internet.

While feature phones have maintained their hold in these regions, Android phones, which are becoming cheaper by the month to manufacture and sell, are growing quickly in popularity.

“Certainly, some people in countries like Australia or the U.S. who walk around and see iPhones everywhere don’t understand the scale of the problem and the opportunity,” said Gour Lentell, biNu’s CEO, in a recent interview with VentureBeat. “Lower-end smartphones and feature phones still outsell [smartphones] by about five to one. … “For many of our users, biNu is their first time online. They are accessing books, health information, news, weather — information and education that simply weren’t available to them beforehand.”

However, infrastructure is still a persistent problem, both in terms of the cell networks in these geographic areas as well as access to something as simple as a working electrical outlet.

biNu’s platform dramatically improves Internet access speed and connectivity while reducing power consumption — it’s mobile magic that gives even low-end phones high-end capabilities. Currently, the platform has more than 100 channels, such as social media, search, reference, books, SMS, news, and weather.

Australia-based biNu is two years old and is funded by Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures, 500 Startups, David Risher, Ronal Lauder, Dick Parsons, Paul Bassat and others.

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