Update: Thie free trial ended October 31. Service is still available at just P10/day. Read all the details here.
In response to some recent Tweets I made, I received a few questions from people curious about SMART’s free offer on Facebook. Yes, it’s true that the Facebook Mobile app for java phones is offered for free on SMART. That means, free to download and free to use – Internet charges are waived. After hearing enough of these questions, I decided to write it down here for a ready reference for anyone curious.
“Facebook for All”
SMART just launched a “Facebook for All” campaign which offers pinoys different ways to access Facebook on Mobile depending on your budget and the mobile technology available to you.
Why Facebook? Like it or not, Facebook represents the Internet to many Filipinos. Based on the latest stats, over 25M Filipinos are on Facebook. Considering there’s an estimated total of 26M online Filipinos, that’s over a 90% penetration of the PH online population. In fact, Comscore rates the Philippines as#1 worldwide in terms of Facebook penetration.
And now the Facebook communication experience can be made more mobile for more Filipinos.
One of the Facebook services offered in the lineup is the new Facebook Mobile app for java phones. Through SMART’s partnership with Facebook, data access for users of this app on SMART is FREE for a 3-month trial period (ending October).
This brings the “Facebook App” experience of smartphone users (typically on Android, iOS, and Blackberry) available to feature phone users, and at no cost to try it out.
Facebook also refers to this as “Facebook For Every Phone” in its international campaign, and this was rolled out globally on the week of July 12. This app runs only on java handsets for now. Here’s the video that Facebook released for this that explains the vision for this type of app:
So what’s a Feature Phone?
Feature phones are typically Java-capable (can run Java apps like games) and can access the mobile internet, but don’t have full-fledged smartphone operating systems. Smartphone use is still tiny in the Philippines (single digit market shares), while Feature Phones have been around since the heyday of MMS.
This is a wide range of phones (Facebook claims 2,500 models) that includes old favorites like Nokia Series 40, Nokia Series 60, Sony Ericsson, and those new inexpensive China-made MTK phones from the likes of MyPhone, Cherry Mobile, etc.
Here’s a step-by-step procedure for installing the free app on a java-capable feature phone on SMART:
1. First of all make sure the phone is set up to access the Internet.
2. Text the command “FB” to 211
3. You will receive a free text with the download link (http://fbapp.smart.com.ph)
4. On many phones, you can just click on the URL in the SMS to connect to the download link.
5. Your java phone will download the app (a small file, around 120KB) and install it. On SMART this download is “zero-rated”, aka FREE.
6. Locate and Run the app. (depending on what phone you have this will be installed in a folder like “games”, “Installed” etc.)
7. Here’s what the app looks like running on my antique Nokia 6680:
8. Using the app is FREE during the 3-month trial period. Keep it on as long as you want.
9. As long as you’re using the Facebook features (newsfeed, comments, likes, photos, etc) use of the app is free. If you try to access 3rd party applications available in the program – this will lead you out of the Facebook app and you may be charged for access – there will be a warning shown on your screen if you venture out of the free zone.
As long as you stick to the Facebook features – you should have no worries about charging and you can continue to use the app for Free.
Update: Here is a phone compatibility listing in Google Docs directly maintained by Facebook. You can check this list to see if your phone is compatible with the app. If not, you can still try it out yourself. Facebook claims “2,500 phones”.