Largest base outside of the US.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Facebook has hit a remarkable milestone by registering 100 million active users in India, making it the country with the largest Facebook user base outside of the US.
The company also found that 84% of Indian users access Facebook through their phones, but using the Facebook mobile app on their handheld devices. As of now, Facebook has 1.22 billion users around the world, with 183 million users in the US alone. Combined, the US and India account for over 23% of total Facebook usage worldwide, and the company has no intention of slowing down its rampant growth on the Indian subcontinent.
Data over the past year has shown that India will overtake the US in terms of Facebook users within the next year or two. In November, social marketing and research firm Jana’s CEO/co-founder Nathan Eagle anticipated that the majority of Facebook’s revenue will come from India by 2015. From year-to-year, India has far surpassed all other nations, including US, in terms of the number of new Facebook users it has added – in 2013, the US only had 5.2 million new Facebook users, while India had 36.7 million.
As part of its Indian expansion plan, Facebook India partnered up with Airtel in December to offer free Facebook access on the company’s mobile phones, with the app available in nine regional languages. It has also established partnerships with 2G and 3G data providers to give free or reduced-cost access to the social network, and offers free access on Asha mobile devices. These are all part of the Mobile First initiative launched by Facebook last year.
Now, Facebook has its sights set on one billion Indian Facebook users, an incredibly tall order. Earlier this year, Facebook acquired popular mobile app WhatsApp, a messenger service that is one of the most popular in India. Facebook is hoping to ride the wave of rapid mobile adoption across the country to even higher usage; in fact, mobile users are the main reason the country has gained so many new Facebook users.
Globally, Facebook has launched an Internet.org project to get its social network out to the rest of the five billion-plus people still without the popular networking service. Like their strategy within India alone, the company is partnering with mobile device manufacturers and service providers worldwide to reach as many users as possible, and has been buying up several smaller tech firms, including in India, to help them reach that goal.