Facebook For Every Phone is a native app that works on more than 3,000 types of feature phones, or non-smartphone devices, from a number of handset manufacturers. These basic devices can cost as little as $20 and are widely used in many parts of the developing world.
"Today, millions of people in developing markets like India, Indonesia and the Philippines are relying on this technology to connect with Facebook, without having to purchase a smartphone," said Ran Makavy, a Facebook growth manager.
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Facebook For Every Phone is a trimmed-down version of its smartphone app. It provides users with many of the social network's most popular features such as its News Feed, Messenger, Photos and first-time user features such as the ability to create a new account and find friends.
Because many of Facebook's users don't have smartphones, the social network had to make the app more affordable to use, Facebook's Makavy said. This version is optimized to use less data than other Java apps and mobile sites, and thanks to partnerships with mobile operators around the world, users can access the app either for free or pay discounted data rates.
"This is an important milestone for us," Makavy said. "Facebook's mission is to make the world more open and connected, and Facebook for Every Phone enables people around the globe to connect to the people and things they are about most, no matter what kind of mobile device they use."
News of this milestone comes in advance of Facebook's second-quarter earnings report, scheduled for Wednesday. Experts agree that the latest numbers from Facebook For Every Phone likely won't impact its mobile revenue since it just recently started selling ads on its feature phone platform.
"Today those revenues from emerging market would appear to be small but growing," said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner. "These early efforts by Facebook are really the start of what they hope will be a long lasting relationship with the people and businesses in these emerging countries, much in the same way Facebook build those communities in the U.S., Europe and Asia."
And tapping these markets early is key, Blau said. "Being there first and having a deep reach into this market is important. It will establish the Facebook brand in these regions and over time it can become a new revenue source for Facebook."