(Updated) Breaking: Twitter in Talks With Zain, the Largest Mobile Operator in the Arab World, for Regional SMS Deals.
Update: (Sorry guys there was miss understanding, It is a source/s inside and outside Zain who confirmed that Zain is in talks with Twitter for SMS notifications deal across their branches in the region. As for Zain PR they wrote on an email, that SMS connections are under discussion with different social networking services and No date is set yet. Again other sources also tipped ArabCrunch that Twitter is in talks with other operators in the Arab region for SMS deals (more about this soon.) You might probably know that Twitter is publicly interested to get it 2-way SMS up and running on Iraq. (read Time magazine story about Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, last April visit to Iraq under the sponsorship of the US government.) Iraqi Mobile Operators AsiaCell on their part declined to provide information to ArabCrunch when I asked them questions regarding any deal with Twitter, saying: “can’t provide you with such information for it is confidential.” You can draw your own conclusion out of this answer. AsiaCell is one of 3 mobile operators in Iraq: Zain Iraq and Korek.)
Twitter ended last year its free out bound SMS in bound notifications to users worldwide excluding 3 countries because it costs them around 1000 USD per user/year. But now it is using the global media buzz they are getting to snap cheap or free deals with Mobile operators around the world, including the Arab world, ArabCrunch learned.
Kuwait based Zain the 3rd largest mobile operator in the world with a commercial presence in 24 countries, has confirmed (Update: a source/s inside Zain has confirmed) to ArabCrunch that they Zain is in talks with Twitter for SMS notifications deal across their branches in the region. Other source/s have also told ArabCrunch that Twitter is in trying to strike 2 ways SMS deals with more operators in the region . (I am following up on this and will update you on AC.)
Update: It was Zain PR who said on a previous email that no launch date is set yet, and that things are still under discussion (Update: with different social networking.) Zain refused to comment on the details of the discussions, however I expect the Twitter 2 way SMS deal if agreed on will include short local codes and will not cost Twitter a penny.
On the other hand, WatWet the regional Microblogging and messaging startup that has more members than Twitter in the region, has very recently added new local numbers for receiving SMS notifications with more 7 regional operators after Zain Jordan: Jawwal in Palestine, MTC Touch Lebanon, STC and Zain KSA in Saudi Arabia, Etisalat in Egypt, Etisalat and Du in United Arab Emirates. WatWet also now broke from Friending into the following methods with private profiles and “@” messages.
In the Arab world Zain operates in Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq , Saudi Arabia and Sudan as Zain, and in Lebanon as mtc touch (under a management contract). And now in Palestine via Zain Jordan’s recent merger with Paltel. Paltel is the only Palestinian fixed and mobile (‘Jawwal’) operator ( Paltel has a base of 1.5 million active mobile customers and over 363,000 fixed line customers, as well as approx 78,000 ADSL customers as of March 31, 2009. Zain Jordan, has over 2.35 million active mobile customers. The merger is expected to generate over US$1 billion of revenues this year.)
Zain operates in 24 Arab and African countries with a workforce of over 15,000 providing a comprehensive range of mobile voice and data services to over 69.5 million. It operates in the following countries: Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In Lebanon, the company manages the network on behalf of the government operating as mtc-touch. In Morocco, Zain in a joint venture owns 31% of Wana Telecom.
Zaina achieved in its the half-year ending 30 June 2009: Consolidated Revenues of US$4.014 billion a 37% increase , and a Net Income US$533.5 million a 4.4% increase.