Facebook to launch “Zero” for mobile phones

A phone accessing a current version of Facebook, from flickr user bartheq. http://www.flickr.com/photos/bartheq/4173395211/
A phone accessing a current version of Facebook, image from flickr user bartheq. http://www.flickr.com/photos/bartheq/4173395211/

Earlier this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Facebook announced a new version of its web site for mobile media users that will be available in coming weeks.  Unlike its Internet counterparts, Facebook and Facebook Lite, the new “Facebook Zero” site version does away with all “bells and whistles,” opting for a stripped-down layout that’s accessible for most mobile phone users. (Note: Until Zero officially launches and is picked up by more carriers, the web site will display a message stating “your carrier does not support zero.facebook.com. However, people in need of a lower bandwidth version of the site can use Facebook Lite, which is a basic version of the site for desktop users with slower Internet connections.)

Facebook Zero is a text-only version of the social networking service that phone service carriers can offer to subscribers without a charge. (At least this outcome is presumable, according to TechCrunch’s Robin Wauters, as more carriers could be more willing to pick up the service in a version that’s free for them.) Designed to allow mobile phone users with very slow connections, Facebook Zero will not include features that are prone to take up bandwidth. Bandwidth “eating” features can include extras like images, applications, etc. There is also the potential that Facebook will eventually offer a premium version of Zero that will include some of the multimedia features users might expect. Having Zero available for free will allow this version to be picked up by more mobile media outlets.

This social media development for mobile phones allows Facebook to cater to a wider array of its users as well as to those with the potential to become users. Once Zero is up and running, mobile phone users will have an easier time utilizing the social networking site and connecting with their friends without having to wait for all of the photos, applications, and other multimedia and its bandwidth to load on the phones. Wherever users may be, if they have their phone on them, accessing their basic Facebook page and getting updates, if text-only, on friends and responding to them through Zero is quick and simple.

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Sam Schneider

I am a senior at Purdue University majoring in Professional Writing and History with a minor in Communication. I intend to graduate in May 2010.

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