In an obvious attempt to expand its market in India and other emerging market, Facebook is now betting on handset makers in what could be called its mobile strategy. It has recently tied up with Nokia whose recently launched Nokia Asha 501which comes preloaded with Facebook.
At Mobile World Congress in 2013 Facebook announced partnerships with more than 18 mobile operators in 14 countries to provide free or discounted data access to Facebook messaging for their subscribers. Through this promotion, free or discounted data access was made available on Messenger for Android, Messenger for iOS and Facebook forEvery Phone, which was now optimized for chat. Operators committed to special pricing for Facebook messaging include, TMN in Portugal, Three in Ireland, Aritel and Reliance in India, Vivacom in Bulgaria, Backcell in Azerbaydzhan, Indosat, Smartfren, AXIS and XL Axiata in Indonesia, SMART inPhilippines, DiGi in Malaysia, DTAC in Thailand, Viva in Bahrain, STC in Saudi Arabia, Oi in Brazil, Etisalat in Egypt, and Tre in Italy.
“Devices like the new Nokia Asha phone, which is preloaded with Facebook, are proof that great and more affordable devices are coming to these markets now. And with low price points these devices are becoming the first Internet connected device many people will own” Facebook said in a statement.
Facebook said that it is working with device partners to launch phones with “Free Facebook” data packages. It has built a Facebook messaging platform for Asha devices that lets users see which of your friends are online so that you can start messaging with them right away, no matter where they are or what device they’re using on mobile or on the desktop.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to bring millions of additional people online via Facebook through these joint efforts”, said Vaughan Smith, Vice-President, Mobility & Corporate Development Facebook.
Nokia has teamed up with Facebook and Airtel to offer data-free access to the standalone Facebook app, as well as the mobile site m.facebook.com.
Nokia said that by the end of second quarter, current Airtel subscribers in Africa and India will be able to enjoy unlimited, data-free access to Facebook from their Nokia Asha 501 for a limited period of time.
Commenting on the partnership, Andre Beyers, Chief Marketing Officer for Airtel Africa, said: "The collaboration with Nokia is in line with our strategy of enabling people to access data in Africa as we seek to bridge the digital divide across the continent. We're already witnessing tremendous growth in data use across the 17 countries where we operate. The provision of free Facebook access is an excellent proposition to the millions of Airtel consumers. We are extremely delighted to partner with Nokia to give our consumers an even better mobile experience."
The struggling Finnish handset giant once led Indian market with a 80% share but lost to cheaper phones from Chinese companies which shrunk its share to about 20%. The range Asha has since helped the company increase its market share to about 22%.
In July 2011 Facebook invested in building “Facebook for Every Phone” app, which delivers Smartphone-like Facebook experience on feature phones. In India, the app is available in Hindi and seven other local Indian languages including Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali and Marathi. We are a mobile-first company and innovate constantly to improve the mobile experience across all devices.
In Dec 2012 it launched Messenger for Android. Launched first in India, Australia, Indonesia, Venezuela and SA, with other countries following shortly after, the new messenger app helps more people connect on mobile by giving them the ability to send and receive messages to and from anyone with a phone number without having a Facebook account.
In Dec 2012 it worked with telephone providers such as Nokia to introduce handsets with FB pre-installed on the devices. Nokia’s Asha line of smartphones has been designed to give the user a smartphone like experience at ultra-low price points. Nokia Asha 205 is the first Nokia phone that includes a dedicated Facebook button, designed for people who want the fastest, one-click access to popular Facebook features. This new device enables people to easily access the Facebook for Every Phone app.
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