Facebook users with feature phones will now be able to enjoy the same mobile Facebook experience their smartphone-wielding friends have been embracing - and without the data charges.
"Smartphones have offered better features for sharing with friends but aren't used by most people around the world," says Facebook program manager Mark Heynen in a January 20 blog post.
To help people access their Facebook accounts from their feature phones, Facebook has developed a new application that will work on more than 2,500 devices (around 80 percent of devices sold worldwide) from handset makers such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson and LG.
"The app provides a better Facebook experience for our most popular features, including an easier-to-navigate home screen, contact synchronization, and fast scrolling of photos and friend updates," writes Heynen.
During the first 90 days of launch 14 mobile operators globally have agreed to let feature phone users on their network try the app without any data charges.
The app was built with the assistance of Snaptu, a company that offers "useful, intuitive mobile services to the 95% of mobile users that do not have advance smart phones."
The initiative is similar to Facebook's 0.facebook.com mobile site that was announced in May 2010. The company collaborated with mobile phone operators around the globe to provide fast and free Facebook access to mobile users that were restricted by slow connections and expensive data fees.
Initially feature phone users signed up to Dialog in Sri Lanka, Life in the Ukraine, Play in Poland, StarhHub in Singapore, STC in Saudi Arabia, Three in Hong Kong, Tunisiana in Tunisia, Viva in the Dominican Republic and Vodafone in Romania will be able to access the new Facebook app on m.fb.snaptu.com/f.
The service will launch on Mobilicity in Canada, Reliance in India, Telcel in Mexico, TIM in Brazil and Vivacom in Bulgaria "soon."