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Facebook buys Israel's Snaptu to push feature phone apps

updated 11:55 am EDT, Sun March 20, 2011

Facebook acquires Snaptu for basic phone apps

Facebook on Sunday acquired Snaptu in a further sign of its backing for basic feature phones. The deal follows Snaptu's launch of a dedicated Facebook for Feature Phones app earlier in the year and mirrored the Israeli company's desire to head in the same direction. A full Facebook takeover was the "best opportunity" to speed up development, it said.

Terms of the deal haven't been given out.

The startup had a general platform for launching and sustaining online services on non-smartphone hardware and had already provided similar services in the past, including for LinkedIn and Twitter. Its deal with Facebook was considered a major coup as it meant covering the roughly half of the world that either still uses a basic phone or can't afford a smartphone.

For Facebook, the move is its first buyout of a company outside of the US. It also helps consolidate the social network's dominance by making it accessible even in developing countries. In many African and South Asian countries, a feature phone might be the only computing available. Snaptu's technology would let people in these areas participate in the same network without having to spend what for many could be several months' income.

by MacNN Staff



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