“Increasingly people want to be able to stay connected and communicate with their friends on Facebook anytime, anywhere,”

"Facebook SIM", the new service announced by Gemalto

“Increasingly people want to be able to stay connected and communicate with their friends on Facebook anytime, anywhere,” said Henri Moissinac, Head of Mobile Business, Facebook, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today. At the same time, Gemalto has announced the first SIM card including functions related to Facebook in coordination with the social network team: "Facebook SIM." The mobile Internet user interacts with the social networking site via SMS and can modify status and have access to a contact list. This list will be stored in the directory of the SIM card along with the updates of friends, posts on the user's wall and personal messages.

     "Over 200 million people already use Facebook on handsets and those are twice as active as non-mobile users . By providing anytime, anywhere availability to the social network, Gemalto delivers on the growing demand for mobile connectivity all over the world.” said Philippe Vallée, Executive Vice President of Gemalto. The social networking giant already has more than 200 million mobile users, so this new feature could highly increase this number of connected users. Today, 91% of Americans are mobile phone subscribers. And according to studies only 21% of mobile subscribers in the USA are smartphone users. This Facebook application is compatible with 100% of SIM-compliant mobile phones, not just smartphones as with its previous apps. So, using an Facebook application running on a SIM chip will help Facebook in it strategy to enable people without mobile data plans to access their Facebook account. What’s more, in developing markets where smartphones and ubiquitous data networks have yet to penetrate, Facebook SIM will certainly have a big impact. Howerever, the service probably will not be free, but will vary according to operator price rates.

     Technically, a SIM card is partitioned into several security domains (SD). This SD concept allows the MNO’s (U)SIM application to reside in parallel with different applications on one SIM card. Potentially, a SIM card could support several applications like Facebook but also payment apps from banks or payment solutions companies. The recent Gemalto announcement seems to hint at a new business strategy. The world leader in digital security is already involved in the NFC payment ecosystem (cf article NFC), and this new service would help them to reinforce their position as a potential important actor in that ecosystem. New developments may follow shortly related to this mutually beneficial project.

By Thibaut Loilier