Facebook's global reach has been the envy of many companies, as about 70 percent of its 500 million users are from outside US and now Facebook has launched an app for feature phones to further bolster its march.
The Facebook for Feature Phone app will work on more than 2,500 devices manufactured by Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG and other manufacturers. Currently, Facebook is working with certain mobile operators globally to provide the app without data charges for the first 90 days after the launch.
The new app was developed with Snaptu which develops products to make web access on mobiles easier.
Facebook already dominates the smartphone domain, with its app for iPhone being crowned the top all time free app by Apple. However, a smartphone which usually costs around $200 per unit is still not the most preferred device in developing countries, though it has gained sufficient mileage in US.
Facebook states that there are currently 200 million active users who access Facebook through mobile devices and the people who surf Facebook on mobiles are twice more active on Facebook than non-mobile users.
mobiThinking gives interesting statistics about global mobile usage. It cites that mobile subscribers will cross the 5 billion mark in 2010 led by growth in China and India. It states that by 2011 over 85 percent of new handsets will be able to access the web. The stats also confirm Facebook's strategy to reach mobile users sans the device as it states on its website -- Smartphones have offered better features for sharing with friends but aren't used by most people around the world.
The statistics say that most of the mobile users do have access to other web-surfing devices like desktops, laptops and tablets. It cites that in a country like Egypt 70 percent of mobile users are mobile only and India it's about 59 percent. Also it stated that half a billion people accessed the web through mobiles in 2009 and the number is due to double in five years.
Thus, Facebook's strategy is to capture this market which is left untapped. In fact Business Insider stated that Silicon Valley designer Luke Wroblewski tweeted that he saw a sign at Facebook HQ that said: You Don't Get To 500 Million Mobile Users Without A Few Feature Phones.
The app will be reportedly launched with the following operators:
-- Dialog (Sri Lanka)
-- Life (Ukraine)
-- Play (Poland)
-- StarHub (Singapore)
-- STC (Saudi Arabia)
-- Three (Hong Kong)
-- Tunisiana (Tunisia)
-- Viva (Dominican Republic)
-- Vodafone (Romania)
-- Mobilicity (Canada)
-- Reliance (India)
-- Telcel (Mexico)
-- TIM (Brazil)
-- Vivacom (Bulgaria)