The Facebook phone has been rumored for some time already, but recent events make us believe that a Facebook Phone will be released very soon for developing countries like Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, and more in Asia.
Back to September 2012, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, has dismissed the possibility of a Facebook-branded smartphone, saying it wouldn’t make any sense. However this week’s release of the feature “Call Friends for Free With Facebook’s Messenger App” is a huge step into that direction, and we expect to see soon Facebook Phone in more hands.
Now, with a single click on the information icon “i” on the Facebook messenger, a user could start a free call with a friend (Note: your friend should have the facebook app installed on their phone for the feature to work. The feature is not yet available for all Facebook users yet).
Interestingly, the calls’ look and feel resemble the iPhone calls design.
Facebook has a rare opportunity window to blow up the legacy telecommunication companies in Africa with its phone. The perfect storm conditions are already met on the ground: Facebook’s high penetration among the young and hipsters in Africa, and the horribly expensive and poor service of the old telco companies in Africa.
HTC released two Facebook-enabled smartphones last year, the Salsa and Chacha, but now all evidences suggest that Facebook new feature will take the concept even further. The “Call Friends for Free” feature is powered by Skype, which now includes automatically all Microsoft messengers users and Facebook users (activation required).
Facebook VOIP in partnership with Skype and Microsoft will disrupt many many players. In the upcoming months we will see Facebook/Skype focused phones released in Lagos and Nairobi by Facebook or third party service providers or manufacturers. The last battle between the old telco and the “pirates of Silicon Valley” has just started.