Vodacom's The Grid, South Africa's first location-based mobile social network, has introduced on-board integration with popular instant messaging (IM) clients such as Google Talk, MSN and Yahoo Messenger.

Grid users can now communicate in real-time with anyone making use of a range of IM clients that also include Jabber and QQ. This new feature enables users of the Grid to connect to these popular IM clients from one application, using only their cellphone.
Instant messaging has fast become a popular medium for South Africans and the rest of the African continent to communicate. The most popular IM service globally is MSN Messenger, with Africa having the second highest percentage of MSN Messenger usage when compared to other continents.
Shameel Joosub, MD of Vodacom SA, says: "People tend to assume that only high-end cellphones and smartphones have the capability to view satellite images or make use of every day services such as Google Talk or Yahoo Messenger. The Grid changes this by offering a single application that is compatible with most cellphones, offering access to technologically advanced services."
Real-life satellite images of direct surroundings and the rest of South Africa can now be viewed from a cellphone using the Grid. This feature, in addition to the street map view on the Grid that displays a user¹s direct vicinity and includes the locations of friends and points of interest, makes it possible to view known landmarks and even one¹s own home without the need for a smartphone.
Street maps on the Grid have also been optimised and now uses less data when maps are requested and loaded to the customer's cellphone.