The Qtel Group today unveiled another major innovation at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with the announcement of a new service to manage social networks and blogs through a single address book.

The new service will enable customers to unify all their accounts, contacts and details for a full range of microblogging, blogging and social media services onto one platform, which can be accessed via their mobile phone or the Internet.

The Qtel Group developed this new service following in-depth customer research across the 17 markets where it has a presence, which revealed demand for a simple, convenient and integrated service that will enable people to manage and access their diverse web of social networks.

Dr. Nasser Marafih (Photo), Chief Executive Officer, The Qtel Group, commented: "Social networking has made a major impact on society, changing the way that people are networking within their communities, sharing information and interacting. We will provide a service which could simplify the way people can manage the full range of social networks, with a particular focus on providing one-touch access via their mobile phones. This new service delivers a simple unique customer experience in a way that is flexible enough to cater for the uniqueness of our diverse markets, and really demonstrates how mobile technology is changing the way we stay in touch with the world."

The Qtel Group customers will be able to interact with their social communities in a seamless manner, such as updating their Facebook status with a new photo for example, and then ‘tweeting’ on Twitter, without having to switch sites.

The in-depth customer research also revealed that customers believe surfing is more fun especially when they are able to tell their friends what they have found. So the new offering will include micro blogging to enable our customers to search, discuss, recommend and follow topics that appeal to them. This makes The Qtel Group offering and proposition a regional first.

The use of social media has increased exponentially in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia over the past year, growing by over 200 percent in The Qtel Group’s key markets of Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Indonesia in 2009. Easy access via mobile phones has proven to be one of the key factors driving this growth, with official estimates suggesting that over half of Facebook traffic will come from mobile networks by the end of 2010.

As well as providing an important service and improved experience for its customer, The Qtel Group sees important business benefits by offering this new service. Social networks enable companies to interact effectively with defined virtual communities, offering services and products to people with common interests.

By offering a converged access to all social networking platforms, The Qtel Group will be enabling people and companies to interact more effectively with these communities. Research estimates that over 800 million people will be participating in a social network via their mobile phone by 2012 – a huge global market.

The Mobile Social Networking service is set to be available in key markets served by The Qtel Group mid 2010, and will be rolled-out regionally across the rest of the year.