Facebook snaps up Snaptu for push into feature phone market

Acknowledging that the majority of phones sold around the world are on-smartphone models, Facebook has agreed to buy Israeli start-up Snaptu, which offers social networking services on simpler phones.

As many as four in ten Facebook users currently connect from their mobile phones. But with IDC data showing that smartphones account for less than a quarter of worldwide mobile phone sales, Facebook’s keen to mop up some of the rest.

Snaptu’s apps are claimed to run on 80 percent of all mobile devices. It last week launched a slimmed-down version of LinkdIn for feature phones, and launched a Facebook app at the beginning of this year.

“Earlier this year, we announced the launch of a new Facebook mobile application to give people a great mobile experience on a broad range of feature phones. The Facebook for Feature Phones app currently works on more than 2,500 devices,” says Snaptu on its website.

“We soon decided that working as part of the Facebook team offered the best opportunity to keep accelerating the pace of our product development. And joining Facebook means we can make an even bigger impact on the world.”

Financial terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed, although Israeli media report that the deal’s worth between $40 and $70 million. It’s expected to close in the next few weeks.