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Facebook Zero: The Lo-Cal Version Coming To A Mobile Near You

We’re seeing a slew of social media aggregation plays for mobile, with several of them coming out this week alone. Now one of the biggest social networks, Facebook, is releasing a mobile version it calls “Zero,” which could be its bid to keep its own site as a relevant destination in the aggregation onslaught.

Zero is a light-weight version of the current mobile site that omits data-intensive applications like photos, a spokesperson tells us. “It will launch in coming weeks and we are discussing it at MWC as an option to make Facebook on the mobile web available to everyone, anywhere and allow operators to encourage more mobile Internet usage,” reads an emailed statement from the company.

The news was first picked up by TechCrunch, when Zero was mentioned as an aside during a keynote from Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook’s VP of user growth, mobile and international expansion, at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona.

In the keynote, Palihapitiya described the service as something that will be offered through operators, possibly at no charge, as a way of encouraging users to take the enhanced version that features photos and other multimedia content, which would then be charged at premium data rates.

Since launching as a mobile version, Facebook has become one of the most popular mobile applications around. Last week it announced 100 million people access it via mobile handsets, a five-fold growth in the last year.