Feeds

India gets any-phone mobile Facebook for a penny a day

GSM text-menu tech takes the fight downstairs to Orkut

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

For a rupee a day Indians can now get onto Facebook, assuming all their mates aren't on Google's Orkut network and they don't mind missing all the graphics.

The new service comes from Bharti Airtel and uses the USSD service, a little-known part of the GSM standard which provides text-menu interactivity more akin to Gopher than the web. But USSD is supported on all GSM handsets, which means Bharti Airtel can offer Facebook on any mobile phone for a rupee a day (a bit more than 1 UK penny or two US cents).

Interactivity is limited to status updates, "friend" requests and posting (text) on walls. The user is expected to have access to a PC for everything else, but Bharti Airtel does provide mobile access to the service, which is one in the eye for Google, whose Orkut network still dominates social networking in the subcontinent.

Facebook has around 25 million users in India, compared to Orkut's 40 million or so. Worldwide Facebook dominates, with five times the total number of users, and Zuckerberg's empire hasn't been slow to take advantage of that position.

It's the markets where cheaper devices dominate where Facebook doesn't: India, Brazil and China (though the latter is mainly down to its government blocking the Facebook site). Many people in those countries have the latest smartphones and desktop computers, but more of them do not. If Facebook can get a foothold into the technically-less-equipped demographic it could be very important in the upcoming fights with Google, Tencent (owners of QQ) or anyone else.

We've seen a Facebook client squeezed onto a SIM card, and now carried over USSD, now the question becomes how quickly the competition can adopt similar strategies – or if Facebook can work its way up the demographic ladder to supplant them. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey
This Herod network's ace – but crap reception in bullrushes
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
New EU digi-commish struggles with concepts of net neutrality
Oettinger all about the infrastructure – but not big on substance
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.