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This mobile app got Facebook 100m featurephone users

It is "five to ten times more efficient" than Facebook's smartphone apps

A Java ME mobile app developed by a small Israeli team has enabled Facebook to reach over 100 million featurephone users, and encouraged an initiative called Facebook for Every Phone

The mobile app is based on technology that Facebook acquired when it bought the Israeli start-up, Snaptu, in 2011. The Snaptu team had to re-engineer Facebook's software to drastically shrink the amount of data sent over slow cellular networks. They also had to find a way to quickly display familiar Facebook features like chat and photos on phones with very basic computing power and low-resolution screens.

"We actually run the apps on our servers," said Ran Makavy, who was chief executive of Snaptu and runs Facebook's feature phone project. "The result was something that looks almost like a smartphone app."

"This is the Snaptu secret sauce - a combination of server-side and app-side technology ensures a great user experience on virtually any phone" a Snaptu spokesperson Paul Naphtali told TechNewsWorld.

The software has features that are common in more advanced versions of Facebook, including sticker-size emoticons in chat and Instagram-style filters to dress up photos. It offers popular features such as news feed, inbox and photos and also enables you to upload photos and find friends from your phone’s contacts, on phones that come just with a colour screen, standard Internet connection and a camera, as opposed to smartphones.

More than 100 million people, roughly 1 out of 8 of its mobile users worldwide, regularly access the social network from more than 2500 different models of feature phones, from Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG and other manufacturerssome costing as little as $20.

"Today, millions of people in developing markets like India, Indonesia and the Philippines are relying on this technology to connect with Facebook, without having to purchase a smartphone," Makavy said. We also have partnerships with mobile operators around the world to offer free or discounted data access to Facebook For Every Phone." In India Airtel, Idea, Reliance and Aircel have adopted the scheme and offer free access for a limited time

Facebook for Every Phone can be used by feature phone customers anywhere. It can be downloaded from Facebook using the phone's mobile browser or obtained from app stores operated by the phone maker or independent companies like Getjar,Appia, and Mobile Weaver.

Based on stories in TechNewsWorld, New York Times and LiveMint

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