Assuming it's not an iPhone that she has, just switch on bluetooth. Works with a very large percentage of "dumbphones" and "smartphones", including - according to Wikipedia - most Sharp, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC and Nokia phones with bluetooth. No "app for that" needed.
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I actually do "beam" contact information using bluetooth from time to time. But business cards remain much more convenient.
"I think the Japanese and Chinese markets have completely ignored the SMS thing"
On the contrary, SMS is very popular in China.
About 70 simplified Chinese characters can fit in an SMS message if 16-bit Unicode UCS2 character encoding is used.
Very nice and welcome additions, though all of this should have been in from the get-go. And of course, now that they are, the self-deceivers can finally stop saying how unnecessary these things were. Throw in SMB networking (not WebDav), Bluetooth file transfers, and decent video recording and we're there.
Can anyone tell me why this situation has come about and when we can expect this sort of service to be enabled?"
Here's an answer to your second question: NEVER
We send text messages, in Chinese and English, to China from Canada.