By Erik Qualman
Chamath Palihapitiya is the Vice President of User Growth, Mobile and International Expansion at Facebook and is responsible for spreading Facebook throughout the world through new growth initiatives, mobile strategy and internationalization. Palihapitiya at Mobile World Congress 2010 in Barcelona broke the news on Facebook Zero. Facebook Zero is a text only version of the popular social network designed for mobile usage. It is coming soon, so no wireless carrier is currently offering it.
What this means is that Facebook’s over 400 million user base will continue to grow as it makes it easier for everyone to access Facebook. Facebook’s portal states the goal is to “make Facebook on the mobile web available to everyone, anywhere.”
The Palo Alto company is supplying Facebook Zero at no charge to wireless carriers, who in turn, most likely will make it part of their baseline software offering. Facebook zero strips out “data heavy” items like photos. By offering Facebook Zero as a baseline offering, wireless carriers then could reserve the right to charge a premium for upgraded usage of Facebook (sharing photos, videos, etc.).
The mobile market is already huge for Facebook with over 100 million of its users accessing Facebook via a mobile device, roughly 25%, and this percentage continues to grow, up from the 65 million (22% of 300 million) Facebook last announced. I’ve always harked that mobile drives social media and social media drives mobile – it’s a beautiful relationship. GSMA data indicates that UK mobile users who use of their mobile to access the web spend almost 50% of their time on Facebook.
This new offering should cut down on bandwidth charges for users and assuage concerns of network overload by carriers.