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Image by movirtu via Flickr

While MTN’s social networking endeavours seem to amount to simply making more Africans text each other more, Vodacom actually seems to be embracing mobile social media with their “The Grid” location-based social network. It boasts a number of features, and is probably worth trying out – some pretty good stuff is being/has been rolled out, including Facebook and Twitter integration, a mapping solution for driving directions (!!) and an Instant Messaging feature. Even better, they haven’t locked the service into a single network provider – The Grid works the same no matter which network operator you’re using (apparently). And now that they’ve developed a The Grid application for the JesusPhone as well as the Android platform, the barrier of entry to joining The Grid is much much lower, so presumably more of your social circle will be using the platform.

Now all Vodacom has to do is make mobile data dirt cheap.

Personally I haven’t registered yet for a few reasons:
1) I hate Java apps but I love Nokia – there’s no native Symbian client, and Java kills battery life.
2) The niggling privacy issue where you can be tracked by a local company that is subject to South African law corruption.
3) DATA IS TOO EXPENSIVE STILL!

Anyway, enough of my bitching, here’s the latest press release:

Vodacom’s The Grid, South Africa¹s first location-based mobile social
network, today launched iPhone and Android applications, allowing these
users to see their friends on local street maps, chat to them via instant
messaging and upload or view geo-tagged content.

This new Grid iPhone application combines the iPhone¹s GPS functionality and
Vodacom¹s location based (LBS) technology to display a user¹s approximate
position on a map. Maps on the Grid are populated by user-generated content
(text, images and videos) that are geo-tagged to a specific location. In
addition users are notified when their friends log onto the Grid and are
shown their position on a map to make it easy and simple to meet up.

The Grid iPhone application is available for free download on the Apple
iPhone App store.

Android application

In addition a Grid application for Android, a mobile software platform
initially developed by Google using the Linux operating system, has also
been made available. Aside from having access to Grid functionality such as
instant messaging, map browsing and media sharing, the Android application
allows users to share photos and videos straight from their cellphone¹s
camera.

The Grid Android application is available for free download on OpenMarket,
Android’s online application store as well as on The Grid website,
http://www.thegrid.co.za.

Integration with other social networks

The latest Grid application releases, follow Grid integration with other
social networks Twitter and Facebook. Grid users can now automatically
update their Twitter and Facebook statuses from the Grid’s mobile
application or website, with the added benefit of their location being
tagged e.g. ‘Mark is in the mood for a coffee (near Bryanston)’.

Says Shameel Joosub, Managing Director, Vodacom South Africa: “The
opportunities offered by location-based technology is starting to have a
lasting impact on people’s lives. We’re making it easy to make use of the
Grid on new handsets and also by integrating existing social networks,
adding a whole new dimension to the way people communicate.”

For further information visit www.thegrid.co.za