he recent launch of the Vodafone 555 Blue in South Africa is an indication that social networks are more eager than ever to put their products into the hands of every day users. The phone, built in partnership with social networking giant Facebook, is particularly aimed at emerging markets.
Jonathan Labin, Client Partner, Central Eastern Europe Middle East & Africa of Facebook confirmed this saying, “Facebook wants to make every phone social and Vodafone has taken the integration of Facebook to the next stage for an affordable mobile device with the Vodafone 555 Blue”.
“We’re really happy that Vodafone will distribute this phone globally and we hope to do much more with them to bring the mobile, social internet to people everywhere,” he added.
By choosing to align itself with a product designed to appeal to lower income groups, Facebook has also signalled that it intends to take the opposite direction to Google, its rival for internet dominance, in the devices it chooses to put its name behind.
Google’s signature mobile device, the sleek, touch-based Nexus S is designed to appeal to a much higher end user than the Vodafone 555 Blue.
Originally launched in the UK, where it retails for around £65, the phone has Facebook functionality built into its very core.
Perhaps the best example of this is the “F” button, which can be made to do a number of tasks, including instantly posting a status update with photos from the gallery or with links from the browser. The social network also runs from the moment the phone is switched on.
Other notable features include a Qwerty keyboard, a 2.4 inch landscape touchscreen, and the synchronisation of Facebook friends’ profiles in the phone’s address book. Any messages the user receives on Facebook also appear in the handset’s inbox alongside text messages and email.
Using such features as unique selling points illustrates once again how different a beast this phone is to the 1GHz Hummingbird processor, front and rear facing cameras and 16 gigabytes of internal memory Google boasted with the Nexus S.
The device, which will retail for around US$100 in South Africa and will rely heavily on the universal appeal of the social network — which has around 750-million users worldwide — to shift units. Vodafone’s budget smartphone, the 858 is similarly priced and has full smartphone capabilities.