The launch of the Nokia Asha 205 the other week was something of a landmark because it was the first ever Nokia device to feature a dedicated Facebook button.
This button provides one-click access to all the great features in the Facebook for Every Phone app, such as popular messaging tools, sharing photos and seeing status updates for all your friends.
At the unveiling of the Nokia Asha 205, Nokia’s Timo Toikkanen, executive vice president, for Mobile Phones, said:
“Globally, young consumers have increasingly started using Facebook for socialising, keeping in touch and striking new friendships. The launch of the Nokia Asha 205 responds to this growing demand and gives them a unique option for accessing Facebook while on-the-go.”
Facebook in Africa
In Africa, most people connect to Facebook using their mobile phones, so the launch of an affordable device such as the Nokia Asha 205 is especially important.
Nicola D’Elia is Africa group manager for Facebook and he spoke to Conversations about the popularity of the social network on the continent, how people everywhere want the same thing and also some of the challenges that lie ahead.
How important is mobile for Facebook in Africa?
We can say that in sub-Saharan Africa, Facebook is primarily mobile. We’ve got a country like Nigeria where we have very active users and people who use Facebook every day.
If we look at the ratio between people who are accessing Facebook via their mobile compared to the total number of people who access Facebook every day in Nigeria, then it’s like 90 per cent.
So in Sub-Saharan Africa, and this trend is very common in many markets, we are seeing a very big push on mobile in driving the user engagement for Facebook across all of Africa.
Are there any Facebook features that are particularly popular in Africa?
At the end of the day, people all over the world want the same thing. Some of the most engaging activities for us include sharing pictures and messaging but the whole nature of our platform is to help people be connected with their friends.
Perhaps in Europe and North America the majority of users are smartphone and desktop users but in Africa we are looking at a different experience because the majority of the users are accessing Facebook on what is likely to be a feature phone.
There must be great potential for growth in Africa?
We know that the next billion users are likely to come from Africa and other emerging markets.
It is likely that they will go online for the first time on a mobile and it’ll either be a feature phone or an affordable smartphone.
That’s why I think it’s really important for us to continue working with our partners in order to deliver the best experience on every device.
I really think that Facebook is a mobile company and mobile is a core part of our strategy.
If you consider the experience of taking a picture on your mobile, you check in your location and tag your friends; the whole experience is much better on mobile compared to desktop.
In Africa, and all over the world, there are three core elements to our strategy.
We want more people on mobiles using Facebook and want those users to be more engaged and active. The third element is monetisation. We just started our monetisation programme on mobiles and we are already seeing some good results.
How about the new Nokia Asha 205 and how have Nokia’s mobile phones helped Facebook?
The Nokia Asha 205 is designed for young people who want fast and easy access to Facebook and to be able to connect and share with their friends. So we are really excited because this is a product that can really meet a specific need in the market – young people who want a great experience on a great device.
I think the whole Asha series responds to a real need in the market.
Personally, I’m a fan of the Nokia 110 because I think it is a really affordable device but still provides a great experience for users.
If you had a crystal ball, what’s going to happen in the next 5 or 10 years for Facebook in Africa?
Our mission is always the same – we want to make the world more open and connected. We want to connect every person in Africa, and on the planet and to work with partners like Nokia to make this happen.
I know that there are a lot of barriers, like access to the Internet and infrastructure but I think the next big thing for Africa is to make sure that this happens on mobile.
It’s undeniable that more people are using the Internet through mobile phones and the networks are improving but I think the speed of this transition to data really depends on how Facebook will work with partners like Nokia.
By working together to deliver the best experience on mobiles is definitely the way forward to connect every person.