Twitter, Bharti bring SMS tweeting back to India

Twitter has announced a partnership with India's Bharti Airtel to provide full SMS access to the microblogging site's services.

The companies have signed a four-week exclusive agreement, whereby Bharti's subscribers can send SMS tweets at standard rates and receive tweets for free.

Twitter CEO Biz Stone said the company selected Bharti because it was the country's largest operator, with over 110 million subscribers.

“We worked quickly to establish full SMS service in India with the largest operator because organic growth in the region has been unusually strong,” Stone said

Twitter discontinued its outbound SMS service for most of the world in August last year, citing the cost of footing the bill for sending multiple messages internationally.

Twitter has since brought back full SMS service to India, New Zealand, the US, Canada and the UK.

While the financial terms of these deals have not been disclosed, they could be indicative of the company's planned business model.

Meanwhile Twitter has launched a Japanese -based mobile version of its micro blogging service, in a bid to get traction where Facebook and MySpace have failed. The Japanese version is Twitter's first  foreign language platform so far.

Twitter teamed up with Tokyo-based Internet firm Digital Garage Inc. in early 2008 and has hired a  Japan country manager, Yukari Matsuzawa. "As Japanese people creatively start to use Twitter, it will help define what the tipping point will be. It will be a combination of excellent innovative users in Japan as well as more celebrities, as well as influential people,” she said.

While Twitter has been very slow to take off in Japan, in the first half of this year, the number of users jumped almost fourfold to 783,000, according to NetRatings.

The new Japanese mobile version is compatible with Japan's major mobile carriers and the quirks of the local market. Emoticons can be imbedded into messages, and users can directly update their profile without having to turn to their PC.