“Facebook for Every Phone” Is Genius

While many of us tend to get caught up with Android and iOS device discussions, it’s very easy to forget that smartphones aren’t ubiquitous.

In fact, the Pew Research Center just reported this week that 35% of American adults owns a smartphone, definitely a rapidly rising statistic, but still probably not as high as you (or I) would guess.

No matter how much we talk about smartphones, the truth is that there are billions of feature phones in the world, and for their owners, these phones represent the internet.

And now Facebook is accessible to them in a fast and cheap way.

New “Facebook for Every Phone” App Brings Photo Uploading and More to 2500 Different Feature Phones

So while people pillory Facebook for not having a native iPad app, they have clearly focused on a much larger and underserved customer base.


Update: Probably should have included this before hitting Publish, but by the end of 2011, there are expected to be six billion mobile subscriptions, of this only 26% are expected to be smartphones.

Another update: One problem with posting something as you read the day’s news is you often miss alternate opinions. In this case, Simon Judge adds some key points:

Facebook for Every Phone provides acccess to Facebook from non-smartphones. Java ME phones make up an installed base of orders of magnitude greater than smartphones and at first sight this seems a large opportunity for Facebook to provide mobile access to a greater number of people, especially people in developing countries who don’t have a PC.

Unfortunately, the idea is flawed because a large proportion of the people with Java ME phones don’t have data access and don’t want to pay for it. Facebook realise this and operators are offering free data for a limited number of network operators, in a limited number of countries, for a limited time. However, I suspect that when the free party is over, people won’t want to opt to pay for data. Those that do, are probably more likely think about upgrading to a smartphone where they can do a lot more with a data tariff.

Before applying palm to face, I think the rate of conversion can’t be totally discounted. Facebook and the local carriers will try like hell to convert these users into full-blown data customers, since it benefits both. So, maybe I’d downgrade from genius to shrewd, but still, it’s smart to work this angle.




  1. As someone who updates my Facebook status via SMS updates, and as someone who is now a FORMER Foursquare user because I am no longer allowed to compete for mayorships, I’m obviously appreciative of these moves by Facebook. While one can make the argument that “dumbphone” customers aren’t as valuable as smartphone customers, any business that depends upon overall market share should certainly take the necessary steps to reach as wide an audience as possible – and iOS plus Android is not all that wide an audience.

  2. Why are you no longer allowed to compete for foursquare mayorships? Facebook needs to tap other markets to stay viable. With 750 million users and 250 million mobile users, it only makes sense to seek out new ones.

    The one problem is cost as Simon Judge mentions, but I suspect FB will work w local carriers to their mutual benefit to keep people interested.

  3. In answer to your first question, see http://support.foursquare.com/entries/384200-i-can-t-use-the-app-on-my-phone-what-can-i-do-on-the-mobile-web

    “Because most mobile web browsers do not support advanced features
    like GPS or photo uploads, we have created a simpler foursquare
    experience that is customized for the mobile web browser’s limitations.
    For example, you can’t upload photos (no saved photo access), and you
    can’t earn Mayorships (no GPS) on the mobile web….”This change was instituted toward the end of last year. I lost my last mayorship a few months after that.

  4. Oh right, I forgot about that feature phone limitation. If they ever want to grow to Twitter/FB size, they’ll have to get that sorted.

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