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Facebook partners with 18 global operators to offer free/discounted mobile data usage


Facebook has continued to push its Messenger apps for mobile after itannounced a deal to bring free and discounted data access for the apps to customers of 18 operators across 14 countries. The deal is an aggressive but industry-backed one to offer an alternative to SMS and promote mobile data services for carriers.

The company says the promotions will launch “in the coming months” and will give mobile phone owners free or discounted data to use Facebook’s messaging service via Android, iOS and its Every Phone feature phone app. There is, however, no word on how long they will continue for. The company says that 75 percent of its active users send at least one message via the Messenger service per month, but it is aiming to increase that and grow its mobile usage.

The list of operating taking part include:

  • Europe: TMN in Portugal, Three in Ireland, Vivacom in Bulgaria, Backcell in Azerbaydzhan, Tre in Italy
  • Asia: Airtel and Reliance in India, Indosat, Smartfren, AXIS and XL Axiata in Indonesia, SMART in Philippines, DiGi in Malaysia, DTAC in Thailand
  • Africa and Middle East: Viva in Bahrain, STC in Saudi Arabia, Etisalat in Egypt.
  • Latin America: Oi in Brazil

The news is significant for Facebook since mobile chaps apps, and services like Apple’s iMessage are increasingly becoming the most used communication tools for many on smartphones. In Asia, for example, Line from Japan recently crossed 100 million downloads while China’s WeChat has 300 million registered users. These apps are rivaling Facebook for attention on mobile, and are increasingly crossing into Facebook’s territory with social network-like features.

Facebook has recently added the ability to make free voice and video calls through its app in North America, but this deal is a more basic one that will help users in emerging markets use Facebook rather than SMS, and encourage great use of data usage.

A number of carriers have backed services like WhatsApp, Line, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and WeChat — offering all-you-can-eat monthly deals — so it makes sense that they’d back Facebook, given its colossal 1 billion plus monthly active user base.

Despite its success, it isn’t necessary clear that Facebook will succeed with Messenger since most of the competition is build for mobile, making many of its rival more advanced in terms of features. Of course, the network effect is key and Facebook’s vast reach gives means almost every one of its users has most of their friends on the service, making Messenger useful from the get-go — unlike many of its upstart, mobile-first rivals.

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This entry was posted on February 25, 2013 by in IT News.

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