New SIMs to come with Facebook preloaded

15 Feb 2011

Digital security player Gemalto has launched Facebook for SIM at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in collaboration with the social networking giant. The technology allows users to enjoy Facebook on all handsets, even without a data connection.

The move brings Facebook to millions of mobile phone users, regardless of their handset type. It is the latest step in a number of moves by Facebook to ensure greater numbers of people can access the social-networking services. Last month, it brought out an app to allow users to access its social network on more than 2,500 feature phones.

“Increasingly, people want to be able to stay connected and communicate with their friends on Facebook anytime, anywhere,” said Henri Moissinac, head of Mobile Business, Facebook.

Affordable social networking

“Gemalto has developed a creative solution in Facebook for SIM that enables people without mobile data plans to stay connected to their friends on Facebook in an affordable way.”

Gemalto’s software development team has embedded the software application into the SIM. This ensures the Facebook application is compatible with 100pc of SIM-compliant mobile phones.

The innovative solution provides mobile subscribers with simple and convenient access to core Facebook features, such as friend requests, status updates, wall posts or messages.

It also offers unique functions: people can sign up for this service and log in directly from the SIM application. Interactive Facebook messages pop up on the phone’s screen so people can always share up-to-the-minute posts and events. Users can also automatically search their SIM phone book. Because the software is embedded in the SIM and uses SMS technology, it works for prepaid as well as for pay-monthly customers. Following an initial limited free trial period, Facebook for SIM then operates on a subscription model via an unlimited pass for a given period of time.

“Facebook for SIM enables operators to leverage two of their main assets: the SMS to communicate with the web application and the SIM for application distribution to the masses,” added Philippe Vallée, executive vice-president, Gemalto.

“Over 200m people already use Facebook on handsets and those are twice as active as non-mobile users,” Vallée said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years