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Facebook Cellphones Handhelds Social Networks Hardware

Facebook-Direct Phones — and Facebook Right On the SIM 113

Posted by timothy
from the how-far-can-this-go? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Gemalto, a Dutch digital security company, has announced Facebook for SIM at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The company's software development team has effectively shrunk Facebook down so that it fits onto a standard SIM card, enabling anyone with a GSM phone to enjoy the service even if without a data plan. In fact, the company is claiming the Facebook application is compatible with 100 percent of SIM-compliant mobile phones. As a result, it works on prepaid as well as on subscription-based mobile plans. In doing so, Gemalto is offering Facebook to millions of mobile phone users regardless of their handset type. Facebook for SIM doesn't require a data connection because it taps into a handset's SMS connectivity to allow the user to interact with the service; users can sign up for Facebook, log in directly, and even check out friend requests, status updates, wall posts, and messages, all via the dedicated SIM application." And if that's just a bit too Facebook-centric for you, a notch down are two phones from HTC just announced in Barcelona, the Salsa and the ChaCha, with dedicated Facebook buttons.
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Facebook-Direct Phones — and Facebook Right On the SIM

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  • Ow, ow ow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Freak (16973) <prius.driver@mac. c o m> on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @08:24PM (#35216906) Journal

    This article makes my head hurt...

    shrunk Facebook down so that it fits onto a standard SIM card

    What? What does that even mean?

    • by devxo (1963088)
      It means that Facebook functionality is added to the sim cards own menu. Usually it's used by the operator to have things like checking balance or ordering extra services. Since it's simple text menu it works on both normal phones and smart phones.
      • It's the wording. I have no doubt that an SMS-based service would be possible, even on a "feature phone". But the wording in this article is just horrendous. I mean, honestly, "shrunk Facebook down"?.?.?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It means there's a good chance that one of these phones will
      have security vulnerabilities that other phones may not have.

      Who would want one of these SIM cards ? Only an idiot. Which means
      these SIMs will sell in very large numbers.

      • Well, the term 'one of these SIM cards' is misleading: the text states that it can work on any SIM card. That implies that it can be installed on your existing SIM card. Likely the operators will try to hide that fact to make you purchase a new phone though.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it means they made a special deal with some operator for a special access point to be used for facebook apps, that would probably only route to facebook.com. (and ran a proto trial of it, maybe).

      and then they dumbed down the press release so much that it made them liars. also, if they had told in plain english what they had done in practice then every operator could roll that out if they wanted.

      in fact, this is just a similar arrangement many operators were using for their walled gardens in the past!

      there's

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        having read what it is really, it's just a sms kludge. horrible! it's 1998 again!

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      shrunk Facebook down so that it fits onto a standard SIM card

      What? What does that even mean?

      It's called SIM toolkit, and it's effectiviely a SIM-phone API set that the SIM can use to display a UI. The SIM isn't just a memory card, but a full-functioning SoC (there's 6 lines - power, ground, serial rx/tx and a couple of control ones, and it has built in RAM and flash).

      A GSM phone has to implement the SIM Toolkit spec, and while not used much in North America, common uses have carriers putting in SIM apps to

  • What's the difference between this and the SMS service already offered by Facebook? Facebook's service works even if you don't have a special SIM card, and the last time I checked (several years ago) it had lots of useful features.
    • by devxo (1963088)
      Well, for one you don't have to remember the commands. Secondly, as it's added directly to the SIM card it may make the operator provide the service free of charge.

      However, now with the current generation of smart phones I find the SIM card menu really clumsy and just use it to check my balance.
      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Since the SIM card is issued by the carrier, the carrier will completely control whether you can use this card or not. They will also know exactly where this card is sending data. There is no way that this scheme can bypass the carrier for access to Facebook if the carrier doesn't want it to. If the carrier does want to give you access to Facebook for free, they can do that using normal data systems. Carriers also customize both smartphone and feature phone software, so they could include Facebook if th
    • Marketing? Like the difference between a squirrel and a rat?

  • I believe there is already a method for texting status updates to facebook. Oh there it is [ehow.com]
  • The Salsa and the ChaCha? What about the Bachata, the Merengue, the Cumbia, the Tejano, and the Norteno? I want a phone named after one of those!
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      The Salsa and the ChaCha?
      What about the Bachata, the Merengue, the Cumbia, the Tejano, and the Norteno? I want a phone named after one of those!

      Flamenco? Uh, no, Flamenco + FaecBook is a horrendous semantical combination - even worse than Bach fugues + fastfood (both of them being "fast")

      • Rule 34 - we meet again!
        • by c0lo (1497653)

          Rule 34 - we meet again!

          Typo (or ... was it?!). Anyway, I like the way you think.
          Given the percentage of the Earth's population having a FB account, is awful how large is the trivial (/no-sweat) domain of applicability for the rule 34.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @08:39PM (#35217020)
    What could possibly go wrong... Next, your phone's contact list is automatically forwarded to facebook.
    • What could possibly go wrong... Next, your phone's contact list is automatically forwarded to facebook.

      That's a feature! Well...for them, anyway. Not us.

    • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @02:51AM (#35218696)

      "...Next, your phone's contact list is automatically forwarded to facebook."

      Seriously, dude.

      As well as the contents of their schedulers, alarm settings, GPS coordinates...

      And from that, one can determine actual sleep schedule (from the times the GPS location remains idle), the stores in which one shops at (GPS locations), the routes one takes to friends houses (GPS locations, frequency of visits)...fuck dude, the list goes on. Just think of all the possible connections Facebook can deduce from that data provided, in REAL TIME. What is wrong with these people (and by that I mean both the users and Facebook)?

      This is people paying for virtual Verichips. Doesn't anyone see this besides me? Does anyone REALLY expect Facebook to apply any real morality to the usage of such data? It will be sold to anyone that can pay. That is what Facebook does, sells data.

      And I thought the government having this sort of data on so many people was spine-chilling, but corporations?

      Where is Howard Beale when you need him?

  • The difference? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @08:39PM (#35217026)

    Well I don't know how it is in the EU and other countries, but here in the US the consumer gets shafted on SMS fees. Last time I checked it was still $19.99 at a minimum for unlimited SMS messages for most carriers (with fine print stating that out of network messages are priced differently). It's the most ridiculous markup I have ever seen and the sheep continue to pay it. The markup is not infinite of course, but I would claim that it is at *least* five 9's.

    The data plan for my BB is $29.99. Verizon's minimum plan with unlimited mobile to mobile messaging is $10 (which more than likely does not apply to Facebook's SMS), and $19.99 for 5,000 texts and unlimited mobile to mobile SMS.

    The tone of the article would seem to suggest that Facebook on SIM would allow a person to bypass a data plan and save money bringing Facebook to a wider audience.

    What blows me away is that it would seemingly generate a large volume of messages and where I live would ultimately cost more than the data plan, in addition... to you not having a data plan.

    • Unlimited domestic text messages are a difference of $10 on my T-Mobile (yes, US) plan.
      • Rereading, perhaps I misunderstood or was not clear. I've never had a text message to or from a company that wasn't considered a domestic message. Why would you expect messages to and from this one to be non-domestic?
        • by EdIII (1114411)

          I am going to assume that by domestic, you mean in-network, or mobile to mobile.

          Unless this Facebook SMS service operates on what Verizon considers its service, it would be considered "non-domestic" as you put it.

          Now I will admit, I don't know this for certain, but I don't see any reason why Verizon would consider short code SMS messages to be within their network. It literally is not. I can easily see Verizon or other carriers counting them towards your monthly limit.

          Now if by domestic, T-Mobile really m

        • by jrumney (197329)
          Knowing the network operators, I'd be willing to bet on them being premium rate SMS.
    • Re:The difference? (Score:4, Informative)

      by icebraining (1313345) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @09:25PM (#35217266) Homepage

      In the EU people don't pay to receive SMS. I also pay 0.09E to send them to every national carrier from a prepaid plan with no monthly fees.

      I could get better deals if I agreed to recharge it periodically, but I'm not a heavy user so I wouldn't spend it all and it would just accumulate for nothing.

      • by EdIII (1114411)

        Well that is a much better and more sensible deal.

        Probably because the EU shows more common sense in its legislation overall than the US does. Here in the US you do get charged for incoming SMS which is why everybody gets their panties in a bunch with SMS marketing.

        It's always been that way in the US. Telemarketing was banned from knowingly calling cell phones because it instantly passed on a cost to the person for unwanted communications.

        Quite insane actually. I know that sending SMS marketing in the US

        • by cbope (130292)

          Not sure about other EU countries, but where I live I can list my mobile number as a business number, and that blocks telemarketing and sms spamming. In fact in more than 10 years, I cannot remember ever getting a telemarketing call or sms spam on my phone. Yes, it's my primary business phone but it's also my personal use phone as well. It's just not a problem here. I have also not had a landline in the same span of time, so I don't get any telemarketing calls, period.

          I hear that the do-not-call list in the

          • by devjoe (88696)
            The do-not-call list in the US doesn't work because there are too many loopholes in the law. Political calls, surveys not meant to sell a product, and charities are exempted. So instead of me getting 2-5 scam extended vehicle warranty and other such calls a week (and occasional legitimate sales calls), I get a couple of charities or surveys each week and multiple political calls a day when there is an election soon. It actually does greatly cut down on the scam calls, though perhaps that is also partly due
          • by tehcyder (746570)

            In fact in more than 10 years, I cannot remember ever getting a telemarketing call or sms spam on my phone.

            There is almost no point in telemarketing/cold calling to mobile phones, as everybody reads the incoming name/number and is unlikely to respond to an unknown number.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      What blows me away is that it would seemingly generate a large volume of messages and where I live would ultimately cost more than the data plan, in addition... to you not having a data plan.

      In addition to (TFA):

      We do know, however, that Gemalto plans to offer Facebook for SIM on a limited free trial period and will then have it operate on a subscription model.

      There you go: pay for SMS-es to your telco and to Gemalto and still have no data plan. But... I guess they'll have a good enough market segment: lotsa consumers for FB.

    • by philj (13777)
      I imagine the SMSes will be free. I think they're USSD Requests.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      operators quit advertising/selling unlimited sms plans in finland after they got used for data logging, it was a _very_ short timespan when it made sense and that's how it is going to be elsewhere as well, gprs is just so much better at it than routing through sms.

    • Sprint includes text messaging in there unlimited plan. Even at $10 more a month, it's still the best deal in the US. And free mobile to mobile calling (any mobile). And nights and weekends start at 7pm-7am. and you roam for free (with the unlimited plan, required for all smart phones) on the Big V's network.
  • So the proposal is to embed into my phone functionality that can report to Facebook every number I dial, every contact I have, every app I have installed, every text message or email I send or receive, everywhere I go via the GPS receiver, every web page I visit, every photo I take. Tracking is full and absolute. Add that info would then be sold to any advertiser with enough cash and given free to any government with a desire to monitor its citizenry, or to any app developer that pinkie-swears to be ethical

    • by devxo (1963088)
      Uh, how it is without permission? You're buying a phone that completely integrates with Facebook. I'm pretty sure even the stupidest person understands it's going to share data with Facebook.

      Besides, what are you complaining about? The phones are clearly made towards people who want that level of integration for their phones. Is someone making you use the phone without you wanting to? No.

      Personally I think it's really innovative from HTC and exactly the kind of thing that Android openness can be used fo
      • by Caerdwyn (829058)

        My point is that I do not believe for one second that the functionality described is what will actually be implemented. This is a data-mining opportunity, and Facebook has demonstrated enough unethical behavior with regard to data handling and silent collection/distribution of user information that regardless of what they say they will do, I believe Facebook will have both the capability and intent to collect information on all aspects of the phone's usage... whether the user wants that or not.

        If you're f

    • by kiwimate (458274)

      Paragraphs 1 & 2 - interesting.
      Paragraphs 3 & 4 - eh...
      Paragraph 5 - err, as you say, just, you know, don't buy a product that's aimed at a target market that clearly doesn't include you. Same as you don't have to buy a Lady Gaga album if you don't like it. (Or Metallica, or Mozart...).

      And from the tenor of your post I think it's a fair assumption that you don't have a Facebook account. So...strike two, surely?

      I really do like the points you raise in the first half of your post. I just don't like th

    • The funny thing is, you think the phone company hasn't already been doing everything you mention for years.
    • by LordLucless (582312) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @09:30PM (#35217294)

      every number I dial, every contact I have, every app I have installed, every text message or email I send or receive, everywhere I go via the GPS receiver, every web page I visit, every photo I take

      Might want to read the article, buddy. It's an implementation of Facebook's SMS API at a SIM level. It doesn't report anything, unless you, the user, uses it to explicitly send a message to Facebook.

      "But that's paranoid! Facebook would never do that!"

      Last I looked "Gemalto, a Dutch digital security company", wasn't Facebook.

      All this without permission, or in stark contrast to denial of permission, automatically and silently.

      Now you're just pulling things out of your arse.

      • by Caerdwyn (829058)
        Those that ignore history are doomed to repeat it.
        • Those that practice paranoia without comprehension are doomed to be hanging around subway stations wearing sandwich boards

          • Not if they don't ignore history and avoid the causes of becoming a subway-loitering sandwich-board wearer.

            Dammit, now I'm hungry!
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      No, that's not actually technically possible with SIM Services. It's a very restricted platform, technically. For one thing it doesn't know shit about the handset it's in, much less have an ability to interrogate the GPS hardware on that handset.

  • I thought the whole genesis of Twitter was the status-updates-via-SMS?

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @09:04PM (#35217162)

    in the usa SMS with out a plan costs more then data (with out a data plan) is it about $1,300 per MEG.

  • I will admit to having limited understanding of exactly what the article meant, but maybe someone more enlightened than I am can tell me whether it will work with a 2G phone, or whether you will need 3G.

    I have a 3G handset, but my gf is stuck in last millennium and uses only 2G. She is a huge Facebook user.

  • by gnapster (1401889) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @09:16PM (#35217214)

    ... access to the world’s most popular social network, wherever you are and without an Internet connection, could prove very appealing. I think protesters in Egypt would agree.

    If I had been a protester in Egypt or Tunisia recently, I would not want my facebook messages going over the wire by SMS.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      If I had been a protester in Egypt or Tunisia recently, I would not want my facebook messages going over the wire by SMS.

      With? Is TOR-over-SMS impossible? (*duck*)

      • by gnapster (1401889)

        Tor's great and all, but if we're charged by the SMS message, I don't know anyone who would be willing to be an exit node!

        I wonder... if they are able to 'shrink Facebook down so that it fits onto a standard SIM card', could they throw on some data for a one-time pad, too?

    • If I had been a protester in Egypt or Tunisia recently, I would not want my facebook messages going over the wire by SMS.

      If I had been a protester in Egypt or Tunisia, I would not want to use a card backdoored by a government that has traditionally been friendly to my own government.

      Why do people still trust Gemalto (or anything else made in France, for that matter...)?

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      If I had been a protester in Egypt or Tunisia recently, I would not want my facebook messages going over the wire by SMS.

      Not that it would've helped. Egypt not only disconnected from the Internet, they also shut down SMS (a popular way of quickly organizing a crowd).

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday February 15, 2011 @09:35PM (#35217324) Journal
    I have an evil plan: if this "facebook over SMS" nonsense takes off, there will be loads of poor suckers paying per-sms for the drivel that accumulates there.

    Please ensure that all status updates, wall scrawls, and similar communications are greater than 140 octets long...
    • This is a company in the EU. We don't pay to receive SMS (at least in general, there may be exceptions I don't know about).

      • Damn your European socialism! Your lamentable unwillingness to be ruthlessly screwed over by your corporate overlords has foiled my plan...
    • by Heretic2 (117767)

      You're confusing Twitter limits with SMS limits. SMS is not limited at 140 characters.

      • 140 Octets: Depending on character set, that will give you 160, 140, or 70 characters. Anything larger will kick you into concatenated SMS, which is (usually) transparent enough; but is still often billed per-SMS...
  • ...and here I am all irritated that I can't remove the stupid Facebook app that came with my phone. I refused to use AOL the first time around and I won't started using it now just because they call it Facebook.
  • I'll admit, I cannot bring myself to actually read this article! Given the "opt-out" nature of Facebook's information pilfering, I cannot even fathom having it integrated directly into my phone. Having said that, people will line up in droves to be the first to try it out.
  • The article says even pay-as-you-go phones can use this because it doesn't require a data plan.

    But... the SIM in your phone comes from your operator. So in order to use it, your operator has to load it onto the SIM before they give it to you.

    Why would they charge any less for this service (or the SMSes involved) than they would for a data plan to access Facebook?

    It would seem to me you want the program in the phone, where the operator doesn't have any control and thus can't charge you extra to use it. Well,

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Good catch. I'm going to assume that the operator would use the Facebook function as a lure to get people onto their service instead of their rivals', and therefore charging extra is not an option. If you only had one phone network, sure, they could screw you, but there'd be no point in them even bothering to adopt the Facebook SIM to do that.

  • What they have been using is the 'SIM Application Toolkit', a protocol which allows the SIM-card to request the handset to do things like displaying menu items, sending SMS-messages or opening TCP/IP connections. This Toolkit is available on nearly all handsets, regardless of manufacturer or price.

    So in principle, SIM-card manufacturers could just add software to their SIM-cards. The card would execute it, and use the handset as as an IO device. Of course they won't do it, as this would raise the cost of th

  • Sims with Facebook?

    Displacing "Your cat" for first place in "Most pathetic things to get a Facebook profile": Video game people.

  • My Android phone came with the Facebook app preinstalled and requires rooting to uninstall. At this point I'd be much more interesred in a phone incapable of running Facebook.

  • It's a SIM application, which means explicit support by the vendor is required. Wouldn't it have been more efficient to just create a dedicated APN for Facebook ?

  • SMS is the worst way of interacting facebook that I can imagine. This will be at best a last recourse in extreme situations.

  • It is a well established fact that SMS is the most expensive method of communication in the world, byte-for-byte. Sorry, No, not just the world - the universe. (Satellite and space-bound stuff is cheaper than SMS!)

    So I don't see how anyone using this with any regularity would quickly spending way more than anyone with a modest data plan.

    • by dave024 (1204956)
      You can send unlimited data to a satellite for $19.95 a month?
      • It's arguable, and perhaps a bit dated, but it is still in general a very expensive. I'm sure you could find a zillion more, but:

        http://boingboing.net/2008/05/12/sms-data-rate-is-4x.html

        http://gthing.net/the-true-price-of-sms-messages

        http://www.privilegedclub.com/42293-sms-the-most-expensive-data-transfer-2/

  • It seems at every step, Facebook fails with securing its users. They can't even setup a proper HTTPS scheme, and they want to try login from SMS?

  • I know in the big picture, 20 years from now, where they want to be, and this is a great first step to accomplishing just that....watch out everyone, facebook is here to stay....

    if you do not know what I am talking about, the first co to hook all types of data formats into one from medical to drivers licenses to government to banking etc, etc, etc....is the winner.....

    Google might be able to stay in the running if they expand their gmail to include more of a solid cross platform API for anyone wanting to ho

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