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BizReport : Mobile Marketing : May 20, 2010

Facebook launches free-to-access mobile website

With reports it's about to reach half a billion users, Facebook continues its quest for more with the release of a new mobile website designed to entice those mobile users who don't have the latest gadgets or extensive data-plans.

by Helen Leggatt

Called Facebook Zero, or 0.facebook, the new mobile website merges the two fastest growing media channels of the day - social and mobile.

It is optimized for speed yet retains the main features of the social networking site such as status updates, replying to messages and commenting on friends' Walls. Perhaps most importantly of all for some, it's free to access unless viewing photographs.

0.facebook has been made possible by the collaboration of 50 mobile operators across 45 "emerging countries". By agreeing to waive data charges for mobile access 0.Facebook, the social networking giant can now open itself up to an extensive audience that currently has no access to, or ability to afford, a mobile data-plan.

"When using the mobile Internet, people around the world face two main challenges - sometimes the experience is too slow to be fun and the cost of data plans and understanding them can be daunting," explained Sid Murlidhar, a program manager with Facebook Mobile. "We have designed to help solve these two barriers and we hope that even more people will discover the mobile Internet with Facebook as a result."

Participating countries include the likes of Bolivia, Hungary and the Sudan. With 100 million mobile Facebook users already, this push to provide even the poorest with access may mean we'll soon be reporting Facebook's billionth user.

Tags: data plan, Facebook, mobile Internet, social networking

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