While BlackBerry manufacturer RIM has been providing a Facebook application for its customer base since last October, Vodafone has just become the first mobile service provider to take on board and use the Facebook platform for mobile operators.
Joining Facebook’s mobile developers platform means that, amongst other functionality, Vodafone customers will be able to upload photos to the site via MMS (multimedia messaging).
Vodafone is currently only rolling out this service in the UK and Germany but Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal will soon be able to avail of the facility too.
Vodafone Ireland told Siliconrepublic.com the service for Irish customers is currently in testing but that there is no confirmed delivery date as yet.
Facebook’s platform for mobile service means that instead of mobile operators doing exclusive deals involving contracts, such as the O2/Bebo deal, any operator can use this platform as it is essentially self-service.
There are no details yet as to how the service will be monetised, so whether it will be fee-based or ad-supported for the mobile customer is as yet unknown.
The platform is designed to equip mobile operators with the tools to make Facebook more user-friendly for those accessing it from their handset, ensuring the mobile Facebook experience is closer to that of the desktop.
However, while Facebook is the second most popular social networking site globally, second only to MySpace, it is used mostly in the US and Europe where it is primarily accessed through a computer.
While the mobile web flourishes in India and China, the most popular social networking sites there are not Facebook or MySpace but QZone and Orkut among others.
By Marie Boran