Facebook is launching a platform for mobile operators, designed to improve the quality of Facebook’s services on mobile devices, starting with Vodafone subscribers in the U.K. and Germany, according to the IDG news service.
The platform, about which not many more details are available, will help improve the quality of Facebooks’ mobile services. Operators will be able to simplify Facebook’s mobile login process and ensure interoperability with Facebook mobile features like MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), which lets friends send text, photos and videos from their phones to Facebook.
The site is already popular in many countries where people – especially young people — spend more time on their mobile phones. It claims claiming more than 64 million monthly active users worldwide. It is quite popular in the UK, with more than 12 million monthly users in December, according to Comscore.
Germany is much smaller, with fewer than a million users (but a sharp spike) in December.
Facebook, of course, knows mobile matters and has been putting resources into mobile services for awhile. First, it launched a mobile site last spring, followed by iPhone integration last summer, then launched a mobile platform for third-party developer applications last fall (our coverage).
The company also has a mobile Facebook application, that lets you send and receive messages between the phone and Facebook, and see the phone numbers of your friends, that they put on their profile pages. The applications — not to be confused with a mobile download application — has 338,000 daily active users out of the the six million who have added the application.
Blackberry maker Research In Motion also recently introduced a mobile Facebook application — that you download — that integrates Facebook with your handset. It has proven relatively popular, currently with around 125,000 daily active users (including a number of my Blackberry-owning friends).
Notably, some Facebook applications, like flirting app Flirtable, are finding success through reaching users on mobile devices, as I’ve written here. New ways of monetization are emerging: Flirtable creator Frengo plans to start charging for SMS text messages sent using the application; meanwhile, mobile advertising company AdMob recently introduced a mobile ad network for Facebook applications.
Operators may see an upside through this platform, too, although it’s not clear what financial terms there were in this deal, if any. Operators make money from providing mobile services like mobile internet access and text and multimedia messages, so more Facebook usage could mean more money for them.