Here at BuzzCity, we welcome the launch of Facebook Zero, a new lightweight mobile version tailored for international markets. Facebook has also signed deals with over 50 carriers to offer free access to the site, without any data fees.
Facebook Zero will best serve emerging markets best, where the mobile phone is the primary interface with the internet and handset penetration is extensive.
Facebook’s move shows that the commercial potential of consumers in emerging markets is being taken seriously by established brands.
On the flip side however, we question whether this ‘scaled down’ version will be well-received. Consumers in emerging markets demand value for money, but they are not particularly interested in second rate products. To truly show a commitment to emerging markets, Facebook should design a feature-rich version that takes into account bandwidth and handset limitations. In addition, Facebook could go a step further and use its power to influence carriers to lower data access costs across the board. More realistic charges will create the shift in use that all parties are looking for.