Yesterday, in a session on ‘Mobile Communications 2.0′ at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Facebook’s VP of User Growth, Mobile and International Expansion Chamath Palihapitiya shared the social networking giant’s current mobile strategy and its plans for the future.
It was in this session that the company for the first time talked about its latest product, Facebook Zero, which is essentially a stripped down, text-only version of the mobile website for the social networking service. The product aims to give mobile carriers a way to offer a basic Facebook experience to their subscribers free of charge and later convert those users into premium data service customers.
We recorded the entire 16-minute session and uploaded it to our YouTube account – these are the highlights of the presentation:
– Facebook believes 2010 will be a watershed year for mobile
– The service is now actively used by more than 400 million people
– They want to make Facebook even more ubiquitous and reach billions of users
– 100 million users (25% of total number of users) actively uses Facebook’s mobile products at least once a month
– 200 million people have interacted with Facebook on mobile at least once
– Over the next 5 to 10 years, Facebook aims to invest heavily in expanding mobile experiences for their users; they expect a lot more growth in this area
– Facebook now works together with some 200 mobile operators – and they are striving to convince more about the added value of such partnerships
– Mobile users demonstrate twice as much engagement than Web users (2x the pageviews, interactions, consumptions and productions)
– They use the above as an argument to convince operators services like Facebook can help drive more sales for more capable phones and heavier data plans
– Facebook is traditionally strong in English-speaking countries, but that’s not all – for example, every single user in Indonesia apparently uses Facebook’s mobile products
– There are 3 key themes to Facebook’s mobile strategy:
* MOBILE WEBSITE: two versions, one for regular phones and one for touch-screen enabled phones – these have now been translated into 70+ languages, covering about 98% of the world population.
* SMS: interactions through Facebook using shortcodes – so far there are deals with 80 operators in 32 countries
* DEVICES: applications or ‘integrated experiences’, which means Facebook intends to hook its service deeper into the core OS handsets run on
– New developments:
* VODAFONE UK TRIAL: the carrier offered Facebook mobile free of charge for a week, which not only caused an expected usage spike, but also resulted in an increase of 20% of people who kept using and paying for heavier data plans after the trial
* FACEBOOK ZERO: stripped down, text-only version of Facebook’s mobile website – carriers can offer this free of charge for as long as they like, and attempt to transition users to a charged model at a later stage more effectively
– Facebook aims to turn FB Connect into a ‘foundational element’ of the web, whether accessed on mobile phones or not.
– In the future, Facebook Connect should become more of a core integration both on an OEM, app and OS level (naming iPhone, RIM, Windows Mobile and Android as examples)
– Facebook intends to play a more important role in the app developers ecosystem
– The company stressed that their goal is to keep pushing the envelope for users, operators, device manufacturers and developers.