Facebook isn’t building a phone – it absolutely doesn’t need to. But it does need to continue its aggressive march onto mobile devices, and that means not-so-smartphones in not-so-western markets too. In order to pursue that end, Facebook is deepening its ties with Spreadtrum, a Chinese mobile chipset maker.

The Frontier Of Low-Cost Smartphones And Feature Phones

Spreadtrum, which launched a low-cost Android chipset platform last year, will work closely with Facebook on upcoming low-cost smartphones, to potentially be distributed in emerging markets like Latin America, Africa, India and Southeast Asia. (Since Facebook remains banned in China, distributing on Spreadtrum’s home turf won’t be in the cards.)

Facebook’s app is already baked-in to Spreadtrum’s system as part of the company’s turnkey platform. The new partnership will be more of a direct collaboration when it comes to the testing and user experience optimization development phases – and of course, getting that little Facebook icon on new devices rolling out to the masses.

Expanding Into Emerging Markets

“Working with Spreadtrum will extend Facebook’s reach in emerging markets, leveraging the rapid shift from feature phones to smartphones that is now taking place globally,” said Vaughan Smith, VP of Facebook Mobile Partnerships and Corporate Development.

Facebook is maxing out its reach in western markets like the U.S., where it’s arrived at an impressive level of mobile hypersaturation. While Facebook still has no compelling reason to get its hands dirty in the hardware businesses, deepening partnerships with manufacturers in emerging markets is yet another avenue to establish every phone as a Facebook phone.