Ever since the launch of the site in 2004, Facebook has changed the way we perceive and connect with the social network. Nearly ten years later, Facebook is still following the path of innovation by emphasising that availability of Facebook for free on low price-point mobile phones is a top priority for it.
“At Facebook, our mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Openness in offering access to information and learning about the world around you; and connected in providing access to people and being able to reach anyone you want,” says Vaughan Smith, Vice-President, Mobility and Corporate Development, Facebook.
Facebook's focus is now on bringing users who have low-end phones into the fold with free access to the social networking website. India figures prominently in Facebook's “mobile-first” strategy too. India is the country with the third highest number of Facebook users – with over 78 million users.
An app for every phone
Smith says that enabling connections in today's mobile world requires three things: a device, access to data and applications. Facebook is trying to be involved in every stage in order to enable a wider audience base to access Facebook for free. Smith says that devices like the new Nokia Asha 501, which come preloaded with Facebook, is proof that affordable devices are coming to the market now. With the low price-points, these devices are becoming the first Internet-connected ones a lot of Indians will own.
For a lot of Facebook users, especially in India, data affordability too remains a key problem. It is not very convenient for most users to buy a data pack when all they usually do is surf Facebook, amongst other simple tasks. Keeping this in mind, Smith says that Facebook has worked with device partners to launch phones with “Free Facebook” data packages. Consumers can spend more time online without worrying about the cost now.
The social network has also tied up with service providers like Airtel, Reliance, Aircel and Idea to allow subscribers to surf Facebook for free by downloading the new Facebook application that was supported on all Java phones.
Messaging too is high-priority for Facebook now, and it is evident in the way it has launched a uniform messaging service for platforms across phones, tablets and PCs to enable users to keep in touch with their friends.
Affordability is key for Facebook's success and it can be seen in the way the social networking site's user base has shot up. Just recently, Facebook honcho Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was now a mobile company. Considering how the company has been training its guns on getting the site to any and every phone that can access the Internet, we're not surprised at the growing rate of mobile users who have embraced Facebook.
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