Today, Facebook is officially launching its Facebook for Every Phone app, which promises to be compatible with 2,500 different “feature phones,” Inside Facebook reported. The app aims to give members with non-smartphone devices—many of them in developing countries—a similar experience to smartphone users, offering standard Facebook features like the News Feed and Inbox but also letting users upload photos and find friends from their phone contacts.
To make the app more affordable (especially for users in places where data plans run high), Facebook partnered with 20 international carriers to make data access to the app free for the first 90 days—hopefully long enough to get them hooked on the social network. Facebook says that the app is optimized to use less data than most Java sites or mobile apps, so it still won’t break the bank when the three-month free period is up.
The app, originally called Facebook for Feature Phones, was developed by Israeli company Snaptu. Facebook acquired Snaptu in March (the deal was estimated to be between $40 million and $70 million), and rebranded and renamed the app, adding new features like photo uploading, which should encourage photo sharing use in places where people might not have separate digital cameras or a Web connection to upload pictures.
If Facebook can get more users in the developing world to spend time on the mobile site, the thinking goes, it will lead to more Web users as Internet-connection computers become more widely available.