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Facebook Mobile Seeks Operator Partnerships, App Developers In India

henri-facebook-mobileFacebook Mobile execs were in India last week, visiting telecom operators and media companies. At a Mobile Monday event held last Friday, Facebook Mobile’s Henri Moissinac told an audience of mobile developers that the social network has seen a significant increase in usage from emerging markets. Facebook, Moissinac claimed, has more than 3 million active users from India, and he is in India in order to better understand the state of its mobile market, and to see whether it will follow Indonesia in usage.

Facebook saw a surge of usage from Indonesia on mobile, where “it went form zero to several million in just six months.” According to him, there are 65 million active users of Facebook Mobile, who are “twice as engaged” as their web users (around 380 million) – more status updates, and uploading more photos. “In Indonesia, South Africa and Kenya, more than 60% of our users are coming from Mobile.” Moissinac stressed the fact that Facebook is primarily focused on active users (i.e. not as much on registered users).

Working With Operators; 92Facebook SMS Disappoints

“Facebook is a reason why people upgrade their phones, so we work with device partners,” Moissinac said. Alison Rosenthal, Director (Business Development) at Facebook mentioned that the response to the 92FACEBOOK long code service that they’ve launched recently has been disappointing: “It has not really had the demand that we expected. We’ve been talking to operators as well, about deploying on a broader scale.”

In terms of broader relationships with telecom operators, Rosenthal said that they’s looking to facilitate SMS, photo uploads and MMS usage. “We can also provide a link on m.facebook.com with their name in the footer, do some co-marketing. Facebook is a very sticky service, so operators can provide it free for a some time, and then can make access to it paid. We work with over 180 operators across the world, with SMS in 35 countries.” Rosenthal recently put up a photo of Airtel promoting the Blackberry curve, and Facebook alongwith it.

Monetization For Mobile App Developers?

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“Distribution is the most important application for developers,” Moissinac said, emphasizing Facebook applications on the web as an example. “You have 7 games on FB with more than 12 million users – the largest is Farmville, with more than 10 million daily users.” He highlighted the example of how photo sharing has evolved, and suggested that the mobile is also moving to social, in the same manner that the web has:


Moissinac added that Facebook has no plans in the short term for introducing advertising on mobile, but when asked repeatedly by developers about monetization for the applications that they launch, he said that mobile application developers are free to monetize with advertising and virtual gifts, and keep 100 percent of the revenue, just the same way it works on the web.

From an application development standpoint, Facebook is primarily focusing on handsets with next-generation platforms. “The world is quite advanced when it comes to mobile – with iphone, android. On these phones, it’s easy to find applications, leading to a a surge in users with phones with applications. This leads to a new world order: the power is now with developers, and the past is about hardware.”

What appeared to disappoint developers was that in case they need to integrate Facebook accounts with applications for handsets other than the iPhone, or those with Android, users would need to, each time, validate the Facebook account on the mobile web, close the browser window, and then use the application with Facebook. In India, Nokia has a majority market-share, and most applications and games have to be created keeping in mind Nokia platforms first and foremost.

At one point, Moissinac asked the developer audience about whether India can have 100 million mobile Internet users by the end of 2010. What do you think?

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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