July 23, 2013

Dumbphones Are the Biggest Opportunity in Mobile Right Now

Facebook has noticed something that other companies would do well to heed: The biggest opportunity right now isn’t in smartphones, but “dumbphones”—aka non-smartphones, or in industry parlance, feature phones—that most people in rich countries have now left behind. The Atlantic reports.

quotemarksright.jpgWe’ve known for some time that Facebook’s strategy for grabbing its “next billion” users is to convince them that Facebook and the web are one and the same by making access to Facebook free on every model of phone. But now Javi Olivan, head of “growth and analytics” at Facebook has dribbled out a handful of other interesting details about Facebook’s strategy.

The service Facebook is working on is called Facebook for Every Phone, and it allows people with data plans on their feature phones to have smartphone-like experiences while using Facebook—meaning they get images, updates, chat, the whole thing. The secret is that most of the processing for Facebook For Every Phone is done on Facebook’s servers, in the cloud, and a minimal stream of data is trickled out to feature phones, which tend to be on slower networks in emerging markets.

Facebook for Every Phone is now on 100 million feature phones, which means almost a tenth of Facebook’s billion-plus users are accessing Facebook through devices on which Facebook isn’t normally accessible.

The second thing about Facebook’s push onto feature phones is that more and more of these devices can access the web.quotesmarksleft.jpg

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