Facebook app gives millions internet access through low-end phones

Facebook app enables internet access for more than 100 million people in developing countries using low-end phones

More than 100 million people in developing countries with limited internet access are using the Facebook For Every Phone app to access the benefits of social networking from low-end feature phones.

Unlike the developed world where smartphones dominate, these phones are common in countries such as India, Indonesia and the Philippines, according to the Telegraph.

The ability to make money from feature phone users is fairly limited at present, but Facebook hopes these users will become more attractive to advertisers as their incomes grow and they gain broader access to the web, the paper said.

The Facebook For Every Phone app was launched in July 2011. The app enables users of low-end feature phones to access Facebook and its news, messaging and photo features.

The app eliminates the need for access to smartphone technology, works on more than 3,000 feature phones and is optimised to limit data consumption as much as possible.

Facebook has also partnered with mobile operators to offer free or discounted data access to the app.

Although Facebook is investing in growing its users in developing countries, analysts believe the social networking firm will draw its biggest revenues from developed markets for a long time to come.

Mobile advertising

The company, which is to report is second quarter earnings on 24 July, is also struggling to boost its advertising revenues as users move to mobile devices.

In March, Facebook reported 751 million mobile users, up 54% from the first quarter of 2012.

Mobile advertising is an important source of revenue for Facebook and, despite the challenges of the transition, the company was a top earner of mobile advertising revenue in the US in 2012.

In the first quarter of 2013, Facebook delivered growth in the crucial mobile market, with mobile advertising representing 30% of advertising revenue, up from 23% in the preceding quarter.

Investors in the social networking site are looking for continued strong growth in mobile revenues, as most users now access the social networking site using mobile devices.

Since Facebook’s disastrous IPO in May 2012, founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly stated that serving mobile users and advertisers is Facebook’s top priority.

In April 2013, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said smartphones may become more important for advertising than television.

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