A Facebook-friendly India!

A Facebook-friendly India!

facebook india

India has nearly 700 million mobile phone users out of which very few own smartphones as prices are steep. Most Facebook users in India are young people and as per a Neilson study, only 10% of 15-24 year olds use smartphones. The rest of us ‘janta‘ are still using feature phones having upgraded from our basic mobile phones. Now this makes India an uniquely challenging market for a brand to be catering to. And with around 15 million Indians on Facebook, the brand is extensively scouting for new markets, creating feasible products to get more Indians onto Facebook. We look at some of the exciting, innovative ways in which Facebook has partnered with mobile service providers/application providers  to encourage and enhance usage.

Last year it was 0.facebook.com – a facebook on mobile site that gave users access to all the features absolutely for free except when they clicked to view a photo or wanted to leave the 0.facebook.com to browse other mobile sites. So you could do everything you normally did on your Facebook like update your status, like or comment on posts, send or reply to messages or write on your friend’s wall. All you needed is an internet-enabled phone, a provider who has partnered with Facebook and the urge to update your status even when you’re feeling the blues. The only pain is that not all mobile operators in India have collaborated with Facebook.Recently, Facebook partnered with Snaptu (a fast, easy and free platform that works on any java-enabled phone and turns your popular websites into apps) to create the Facebook for Feature phones app. It is free for the first 90 days, so just download the Facebook app and no matter the type of phone you carry, you can still enjoy the Facebook experience.The only drawback is that Facebook is still rolling out in countries.

And what about youngsters active on Facebook but without internet? Targeting this consumer, Facebook  along with Aircel is providing a service where subscribers can update their status messages on Facebook with their own voice. All you have to do is dial a short code from your Aircel mobile and record your voice message. Your friends will then receive an SMS alert about your new status update, to which they can reply with their own voice updates on Aircel. You can even post voice updates on your friends profile and invite them to use this service. This ad says it all!

In a press release, the COO of Aircel, Gurdeep Singh said,

“At Aircel it is our constant endeavor to Innovate and bring the best to the consumer which enables the consumer to better his lifestyle and live SMART. Convergence is the way forward as it opens a world of possibilities”.

He summed the partnership as,

“Facebook Voice Updates on Aircel is a step in that direction which helps both the business community and the youth to connect efficiently, be it a celebration or an emergency.”

We are guessing this is a smart move by Aircel to add to it’s already growing 50 million subscriber base and an innovative move by Facebook that has around 15 million users.

With Mobile Number Portability (MNP) now a reality, the constant threat to service providers is bringing in exciting features, finding innovative ways to enhance user experience and building fruitful partnerships. Moreover, brands are being cautious in this digital age as they cannot risk thrusting users with useless, expensive products. The need is for products that help to connect socially, help to share stories, enrich our lives and all this at an affordable price.The only way forward is convergence. In the future, we shall see more partnerships, better products to choose from and a new paradigm shift in our modes of communication with the consumer as the king and rightly so!

Do share your ideas about the future.