Update: It’s official – Tata Indicom has announced that Facebook can be accessed from mobiles using SMS. Facebook Mobile is a premium SMS service and each SMS to the shortcode 51555 will cost Re 1 (not the Rs. 3 that has been reported elsewhere). Photos can be uploaded directly from GPRS-enabled mobiles by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original Story (April 8th, 22:22pm):
Facebook has gone mobile in India, in partnership with Tata Indicom; Tata Indicom subscribers can now update their Facebook status via text messages. If you logged into Facebook this evening, you would have seen a notification suggesting that you can “Facebook is now available via SMS”.
Once a Tata Indicom mobile number has been linked to a particular Facebook, users can also text message updates by messaging to the short code 5155. More details of how to use Facebook via text messages here.
Users can update their status, search for profiles, message friends, poke, write on friends wall, add friends and write notes.
I tried activating my Airtel mobile number, and while my number was activated, I wasn’t able to use the service to update my Facebook status because Airtel would not recognize messages sent to the short code 5155. So, is this a premium SMS service, and does Facebook get a revenue share from Tata Indicom for every SMS sent?
One wonders why Facebook would choose to go mobile with Tata Indicom, which has among the lowest mobile subscriber bases in India at around 33 million subscribers; Airtel has almost three times as many, while Vodafone has almost twice that number. We won’t be surprised to see Airtel and Vodafone also among that list soon. That said, I’ll still probably continue to use the GPRS version over SMS, like I do in case of Twitter.
Interestingly, those using Twitter via SMS in India are mentioned noticing the note “Powered by Vodafone” in the footer of the text message. (Credit due to Sony Joy for the Twitter tip-off)
(Updates: Added inputs from Tata Indicoms press release)