Yesterday, Airtel launched a USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) system based service. The service, jointly developed by Facebook and U2opia Mobile, a Singapore based company, allows users to access Facebook on their mobile phones without the need for a GPRS service. It works on the same concept as the messaging service you use to check your prepaid balance, etc. So essentially, you would be able to check updates, view comments and ‘like’ news feeds, add friends, post on walls, etc. Of course, since it is a message based service, you will not be able to acccess any media content like photographs, videos, etc. It is useful for people with basic mobile handsets too.
Wonder how that’s gonnna be. Facebook, without the media content, would not be half as fun. A Facebook without a face. It would be similar to trying to read the news by way of SMS’s. Quite painful to say the least. And in this day and age, when phones without a decent screen resolution and GPRS capability is almost an unheard of thing. When even people who just about earn enough to make ends meet are probably onto their second or even third mobile phone that supports GPRS and media content, I wonder who would be the target audience for such a service, even if its free, which by the way, it’s not (don’t lose heart, it comes at a nominal Re. 1 per day).
So, back to who might use such a service. Only person I can think of is a Facebook addict, who, when stuck in an area with a weak network signal, not sufficient for GPRS, and is about to break into a sweat wondering about all the updates he or she is missing as the seconds tick by; then, such a service might just save their lives.