Facebook snaps up Snaptu to poke every phone in the world

Facebook has snapped up Java-based browser Snaptu as the next step to take over the world of mobile phones.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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Facebook has snapped up Snaptu. The Web-browsing app for mobile phones has been bought by the social-networking behemoth, highlighting Facebook's plans to take over the world of mobile phones -- all mobile phones.

Snaptu is a Java-based browser that presents Web services and social networks as apps. It offers smart phone-style simplicity and a clear layout for phones that don't have such advanced browsing experiences -- we reckon it's an essential app for more basic Nokia phones, for example.

Phones that aren't Web-browsing smart phones, but offer some extras such as an MP3 player, are known as feature phones.

Facebook began working with Snaptu on a feature-phone app as partners, and has now decided to bring the app team aboard the good ship Zuckerberg. The Big Book of Face is reported to have paid £43m for the London-based Israeli company, which started in 2007.

This year, Facebook has also bought mobile-advertising company Rel8tion, recruitment service Pursuit and messaging app Beluga.

Last year, a flurry of rumours suggested Facebook was planning its own phone, just as Google came up with the Nexus One and Nexus S. The social network denies a Facephone is in the works, but it is working closely with phone companies to put Facebook at the core of the phone's software.

Although there isn't a Faceblower as such, Facebook is finding its way into hardware with the HTC ChaCha and Salsa, two Android phones with built-in Facebook buttons. As Facebook continues to spread its tentacles into the mobile world, having a cheaper or less advanced phone won't stop you from updating, liking and poking wherever you are.