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Facebook launches Israeli mobile application

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Thursday, July 21st, 2011

The application was developed by Snaptu, which Facebook acquired for $60-70 million.

Facebook yesterday launched its new mobile application, “Facebook for Every Phone”, based on software developed by Israeli start-up Snaptu Ltd., which Facebook acquired for $60-70 million in March. This was Facebook’s first acquisition in Israel.

The application provides fast and easy access to simple mobile phones (i.e. not smartphones such as iPhones and Androids) that lack advanced operating systems. The application provides a Facebook news feed, messages box, events, alerts, requests for friendships, images, a members’ list, personal profile, and general search function. These features already existed in Snaptu’s application, which continues to manage the software itself.

Two features were added to the Facebook application: adding friends from the list of contacts in the mobile phone or by SMS or e-mail to an individual; and a link to Snaptu’s mini app store.

It is not clear why Facebook waited four months to launch the application, which is almost identical to Snaptu’s application, as both target regular mobile phones. Facebook plans to promote the application for 2,500 models of mobile phones, in order to boost the number of users with Internet access. There are 250 million such users.

Facebook has reached agreements with 20 mobile operators in 13 countries, including the UK, India, Turkey, Germany, and Indonesia. It is not known yet if Facebook has agreement with Israeli mobile carriers. Facebook will subsidize users’ access cost via the application for three months, in order to encourage them to use it use up part of their Internet access plans.

Facebook’s launch of the mobile application is important for the social network to compete against Google Inc’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) entry into the field through its recently launched Google Plus. Google has developed a Google Plus application for Android, which will soon become available for iPhone, and also launched access to Google Plus from other mobile phones.