TeliaSonera unveils Facebook service using SMS/MMS

Given the unstoppable boom in social networking, the Scandinavian operator TeliaSonera has announced its subscribers will be able to access the Facebook service using SMS and MMS from any of its handsets. The company said text messages (with the first 20 being free) could be used by users to update their status and receive messages from other Facebook users. By sending an MMS users can also add images to their Facebook account.

According to Jonathan Arber, a research analyst with IDC, there is a growing trend toward offering means to get access to mobile services without using a high-end smartphone application or a Web browser. "It's a great way of starting to introduce users with lower-end devices to mobile Internet services."

However, TeliaSonera will need to think carefully with regard to the charges users could rack-up using SMS/MMS to access and update the Facebook service--especially as the fixed-line offering is perceived as being provided for free. "The difficulty might be that consumers have to feel they are really getting value out of this. Otherwise they will quickly feel they're getting ripped off," said Arber.

According to the online market researcher Nielsen, Facebook--the world's most popular social network--saw a 168 per cent growth in visitors during 2008 and it also a staggering 566 per cent increase in the total amount of time spent on the site. Social networking also dominated the mobile web, especially in the UK which saw a 249 per cent increase in mobile access to social networking sites in 2008.

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