Facebook continued its buying spree with an email announcement today that it is picking up Finnish mobile data startup Pryte.
The service that Facebook bought, which has not yet been released, is intended to provide short-term access to data plans so users can employ specific apps — such as, of course, Facebook’s — even when they don’t have regular data plans. Additionally, Pryte has been developing relationships with wireless companies, especially in booming emerging markets. Terms of the deal were not made public.
On its website, Pryte says it seeks to “let users forget about mobile data and simply enjoy apps every day.” The company’s patent-pending technology “helps by enabling [mobile operators’] customers to buy mobile data the same way they buy their apps – through a single click on their device, combined with bite-sized app-specific data packages,” the company said.
But the service itself was not the key objective of the purchase, according to Facebook spokesperson Vanessa Chan. As with many startup acquisitions, the real target was getting onboard some, if not all, of the 30-member team behind the one-year-old startup.
Like Google, Nokia, BlackBerry and others, Facebook has been putting a lot of emphasis on the developing nations because their markets are not approaching the saturation levels for wireless devices and services the way developed countries’ are.
Facebook is a key driver behind Internet.com, which is seeking to provide broadband access to those markets by such means as drones or small, high capacity satellites. It has also launched 0 (pronounced “zero”), which allows access without data charges to Facebook mobile users in emerging markets as long as photos are not viewed.
Obviously, ad-hoc data plans that you acquire only as you need the access could help drive Facebook activities in those markets.