Facebook unveiled a new mobile application yesterday called Facebook for Every Phone designed to bring the social platform to every corner of the globe. The new mobile app has been designed to work with 2,500 features phones across cellular carriers worldwide which could bring Facebook to users in the developing world that do not have access to smartphones or computers.
Facebook is teaming with 20 international carriers to offer free data access for up to 90 days. The Every Phone app is designed with Java but uses less data than other Java applications or an HTML5 mobile website, making it much the service much more affordable. Is this the type of move that many in the Western world shrug off but could end up drastically increasing the amount of users that use Facebook across the globe?
Inside Facebook has been tracking Facebook’s feature phone efforts for two years, registering a peak of 1.89 million daily active users (DAU). That is a small fraction of Facebook’s 750 million users. Facebook was working with Israeli feature phone application maker Snaptu for its feature phone efforts before acquiring the company for a reported $70 million in March.
The app will be available through m.facebook.com or by going to d.facebook.com/install directly from a feature phone mobile browser. It will also be available in app stores including Getjar, Appia and Mobile Weaver.
The partnership with the 20 international carriers is a clever move by Facebook and beneficial to both parties. The carriers will be able to attract more users to data plans or pay-as-you-go services while Facebook should be able to boost its user-base on feature phones well above the 1.76 current daily active users.
By the end of 2011 there will be over six billion cellular connections. That includes all devices that consume data, not just phones but a significant portion of of that total will be feature phones. A principal of business “go where the people are.” When it comes to world wide mobile use, feature phones are where the people are.
This move could be the boost that Facebook uses to bump itself over the 1 billion user mark. It will open up a world of targeted advertising and special verticals to parts of the world that were previously unavailable to Facebook or extremely limited.