The application is based on the technology of Israeli company Snaptu, which was bought by Facebook for some $70 million about four months ago.
Facebook did not mention Snaptu in its statement, but the person appearing on the guide it published is Ran Makavy, one of Snaptu's founders. As he demonstrates the application on his phone in the clip, one can even read statuses written in Hebrew by famous Israeli high-tech people.
The company's logo can be seen on the application's interface in some of the presented options, like taking photographs and posting them on the Web.
Snaptu was founded in 2007 by Makavy, Micha Berdichevsky, Barak Naveh and Lior Tal – who are now all Facebook workers – in order to allow owners of simple cellular phones (not smartphones) to easily access the Internet.
"When we invested in Snaptu, we realized that most of the global attention is directed at the world of smartphones, but there are still two billion telephones in the world which are not smartphones, and there are many people in the world who still want to use applications like Facebook and Twitter – even if they have a more basic phone," said Gili Raanan of the Sequoia Fund, which invested in the company.
Facebook purchased Snaptu in order to enter markets in which there is less access to computers, or reach target audiences which cannot afford smartphones.
"In many countries, the average person doesn't own a computer but does have a phone with Internet access," Raanan explained. "And because the interface is so bad and the connection is so slow, he can't enjoy the progress and surfing experience wealthier users enjoy in wealthier countries."
Facebook announced recently that it now has 750 million users, although it has been suffering from a drop in users in certain places in the world where the market is saturated.
May, for example, saw six to 10 million American users leave Facebook. On the other hand, there are certain markets in which Facebook is not a key player just yet – and Snaptu's technology could help the social network access them.
"Snaptu is making it possible to access huge new markets," explained Raanan. "I'm not sure every kid in central US has a smartphone, but he likely has a cellphone. The potential ability to suddenly reach hundreds of millions of users in Mexico, Brazil, India, Indonesia and China – is a very important thing for a company like Facebook."
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