Facebook to acquire mobile application developer Snaptu

The acquisition should help Facebook reach users in regions where smartphones are less common

Facebook plans to buy Snaptu, a four-year-old startup that develops versions of Web-based applications for cheaper mobile phones.

Snaptu, which was founded in 2007, said on its blog on Sunday that the acquisition should close within a few weeks.

Working as part of the Facebook team is the company's best bet for accelerating product development, according to the Snaptu blog post.

For its part, Facebook said Snaptu will enable it to more quickly deliver a better mobile experience for so-called "feature" phones, which have lesser processing capabilities than smartphones.

Snaptu released a Facebook mobile application for feature phones earlier this year. The application, called Facebook for Feature Phones, works on more than 2,500 phone models.

There are already plenty of Facebook applications out there for more high-powered phones. Facebook has developed its own mobile application for Apple's iPhone, while Research In Motion has developed a Facebook app for its BlackBerry phones. There are also Facebook apps for T-Mobile's Sidekick and for smartphones from INQ, Palm, Nokia and High Tech Computer (HTC), which sells two Android smartphones with dedicated Facebook buttons.

The acquisition of Snaptu should help Facebook grow its user base in developing regions where users are more likely to not have either smartphones or their own PCs. Snaptu said 95 percent of mobile phone users do not have a smartphone.

Snaptu also offers feature phone apps for business networking site LinkedIn, social news site Mashable and micro-blogging service Twitter. Neither Snaptu nor Facebook indicated what would happen to these other applications following the acquisition, with Snaptu merely indicating that it would be business as usual during the transition period.

Tags business issuesSnaptuInternet-based applications and servicesMergers / acquisitionsinternetsocial mediaFacebook

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Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service

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