Facebook plucks Pryte for app data plans in emerging markets

The business hasn't officially launched, but Pryte's team has access to wireless operators in emerging markets, which fits with a key Facebook goal.

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Pryte aims to offer bite-sized app-specific data packages. Pryte

Facebook has acquired a small startup with hopes of changing the way people around the globe access data from their smartphones.

Helsinki-based startup Pryte announced Tuesday that Facebook has acquired its business for an undisclosed sum. The company said that it is "delighted" with the acquisition and that it plans to work with the world's largest social network to "bring people online in a profitable way."

Pryte, which was founded just last year and hasn't actually started launching its services across the world, wants to change the way mobile users get data to access apps. Rather than buy data in bulk -- something that people in emerging countries could find cost-prohibitive -- Pryte was working with telecoms to offer "bite-sized" by-app data pricing. The idea is to provide enough data for the apps that users desire -- and nothing else. That would bring down the cost and ultimately connect more people to the Web and mobile apps.

In a statement to CNET, a spokesperson for the social network said that the Pryte team fits well with Facebook's broader ambitions.

"[The Pryte team's] deep industry experience working with mobile operators aligns closely with the initiatives we pursue with Internet.org, to partner with operators to bring affordable Internet access to the next 5 billion people, in a profitable way," the Facebook spokesperson said.

Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the formation of a coalition of companies to connect the entire world to the Internet. That effort, dubbed Internet.org, takes aim at wireless operators in emerging markets around the world with the goal of enhancing their services to provide more Web access to people who currently can't connect to the Internet. Facebook estimates that number at 5 billion people.

When Internet.org launched last year, Zuckerberg said that the effort's focus would be laser-like in its initial phases. He specifically mentioned hopes of reducing the amount of data required to run mobile apps.

Pryte has formed relationships with wireless operators around the world, giving Facebook a jump start on its Internet.org efforts. Ultimately, if successful, Pryte's relationships and Facebook's cash could help bring many more people online and increase Facebook's reach around the world.

Terms of the deal between Facebook and Pryte were not announced.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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