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2/13/2009
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Facebook Looks To Expand Mobile Presence

The social network may be seeking help from Motorola, Nokia, and Palm to increase integration of its site on mobile phones.

Facebook sees the mobile space as a major growth avenue, and the company is reportedly in talks with major cell phone manufacturers to increase its presence on phones.

As handsets get more technologically advanced and mobile data networks improve, there's growing demand for accessing social networks on the go. Facebook already has about 7 million U.S. mobile users, while rival MySpace has about 5.7 million. Both companies routinely see their applications break download records as well.

Facebook and Nokia are discussing a deal to integrate some of the social network's functions into some of Nokia's mobile phones, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. One of the discussed deals would lead to Facebook being integrated into the phone's address book. Users would be able to see if their Facebook friends were online, send and receive messages, and post notes on their friends' walls.

The move would be a boon for Facebook, as Nokia is the world's largest cell phone manufacturer by far. But Nokia may want to pursue its own mobile social network, as the company has been branching out to offer additional services like music, gaming, navigation, and other services.

Facebook also is reportedly in talks with Motorola for tighter integration, and many expect to see this come to fruition with the release of an Android-powered handset that has strong social networking features. Additionally, when the Palm Pre was unveiled, the ability to integrate a user's Facebook contacts was prominently featured.

The social network did not comment on specific deals, but a spokesperson said Facebook is "dedicated to working with and developing partnerships with mobile operators and device makers all over the world."

While Facebook and MySpace have yet to significantly monetize their mobile software, many see this space as full of potential. Industry watchers expect both to eventually utilize location-based services, which could lead to lucrative location-relevant advertising.

Facebook and other social networks can definitely be time wasters, but they also have the potential to be useful tools for enterprise collaboration. InformationWeek wrote a report on this issue, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).

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