Facebook launches Israeli mobile app

The application provides fast and easy access to simple mobile phones that lack advanced operating systems.

By ROY GOLDENBERG / GLOBES
July 14, 2011 23:34
1 minute read.
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Facebook 58. (photo credit: PR)

 
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Facebook launched its new mobile application, “Facebook for Every Phone,” on Wednesday based on software developed by Israeli start-up Snaptu Ltd., which Facebook acquired for $60-70 million in March.

This was Facebook’s first acquisition in Israel.

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The application provides fast and easy access to simple mobile phones (i.e. not smart phones, such as iPhones and Androids) that lack advanced operating systems. The application provides a Facebook news feed, messages box, events, alerts, requests for friendships, images, a members’ list, personal profile, and general search function. These features already existed in Snaptu’s application, which continues to manage the software itself.

Two features were added to the Facebook application: adding friends from the list of contacts in the mobile phone or by SMS or e-mail to an individual; and a link to Snaptu’s application store.

It is not clear why Facebook waited four months to launch the new application, which is almost identical to what Snaptu had already developed, as both target regular mobile phones.

Facebook plans to promote the application for 2,500 models of mobile phones, in order to boost the number of users with Internet access. There are 250 million such users.

Facebook has reached agreements with 20 mobile operators in 13 countries, including the UK, India, Turkey, Germany, and Indonesia. It is not known yet if Facebook has an agreement with Israeli mobile carriers. Facebook will subsidize users’ access cost via the application for three months, in order to encourage them to use it as part of their Internet access plans.

Facebook’s launch of the mobile application is important for the social network to compete against Google Inc.’s entry into the field through its recently launched Google Plus. Google has developed a Google Plus application for the Android smart phone, which will soon become available for iPhone as well, and also enabled access to Google Plus from other mobile phones.

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