Facebook has just launched 0.facebook.com, a special mobile-only version of the site that can be accessed free of charge on 50 mobile carriers. The site is very similar to Facebook Lite which got canned a while back, it contains only key features and is stripped of photos to ensure speedy access. If users want to view photos they will be charged regular data fees (brilliant).

You’ve got to hand it to Facebook, this is a absolutely genius move to encourage growth and usage, especially in developing markets where access to computers is limited. In many cases these new users will never see the desktop version of the site.

I can now see Facebook hitting 1 billion users within a year, that will be insane, think about it, a social network with one billion users. My my.

Oh and guess how many people in these new markets will give a flying toss about privacy? Especially when people who can’t even afford a TV can now message each other for free using Facebook. Whatever you want to think about Facebook, this could improve so many peoples lives.

Just look at the kind of thing Google has done with SMS in Africa, there is no reason why Facebook can’t go down this route.

List of countries here:

There must of been some serious negotiations with mobile networks to get the Facebook site zero-rated (not a easy thing to do). You hardly ever see this in the UK let alone 50 countries.

I want to see how this one develops, my question is – now Facebook is in bed with operators, will deals be done to provide user location to them via a normal WAP session, enabling LBS status updates? That functionality is key for Facebook location to launch globally.

Also what about the opportunity to provide unique services to developing markets via Fan Pages/Groups?