India poised to overtake US as Facebook's No 1 market

New York: Facebook addiction has given way to Facebook fatigue, at least among some users in parts of the world. But it's a different story in India, where people love its social network, and they are joining in droves. India is one of the fastest growing markets for Facebook, registering phenomenal 47 percent growth, according to analysts.

Nathan Eagle, founder and chief executive of Jana, a US-based social marketing and global research firm, told the 2013 Paley International Council Summit, in New York that India could soon overtake the US as the social networking website's No. 1 market.

It will only be a matter of months before India replaces the US when it comes to being Facebook's largest user base, Eagle told the data-themed technology summit in New York.

Getty images

Getty images

Eagle's predictions are grounded in a simple reality: India's Facebook network is about 30 million users smaller than the US, but it has been adding 36.7 million users a year, eight times the growth rate seen in the US. The US market for new Facebook users is nearly tapped out, while India shows unbridled promise.

India currently has about 114.8 million Facebook users, not too far behind the US with 146.8 million users. Facebook counts up 36.7 million new users from India every year, while the US only adds 5.2 million new users to the social network.

Seeing the country's potential, Facebook launched its India operations from Hyderabad - its first office in Asia - in 2010. The Indian operations have been growing at a tear with over 500 employees in Hyderabad who provide round-the-clock and multilingual support to Facebook's ever-increasing number of users, advertisers and third-party developers.

The office in Hyderabad - which provides free meals to its employees and pays for their monthly gym membership - is part of Facebook's operations in Palo Alto, Dublin and a recently opened office in Austin. Facebook reportedly invested $150 million in the initial phases of its operations in India.

Earlier in November, Eagle had forecast that most of Facebook's revenues would come from the emerging markets by 2015. Eagle's projections are calculated in spreadsheets using Facebook's current revenue by region and extrapolating it into the future, assuming current growth rates.

"Whether it's two years or five years hardly matters - in either case, Facebook is about to become the vanguard of a new generation of internet companies which, despite their pedigree in Silicon Valley, will rely on emerging markets for most of their revenue - if not profits," reported business news outlet Quartz.

Facebook, which is laser focused on drawing in mobile users, has found ways to reach out to people in developing countries like India who don't have Apple, Android or Windows smart phones. In July, Facebook said it had over 100 million monthly users for its "Facebook For Every Phone," a streamlined app for non-smartphones.

"Today, millions of people in developing markets like India, Indonesia and the Philippines are relying on this technology to connect with Facebook, without having to purchase a smartphone," wrote Ran Makavy, Facebook growth manager in a blog post.

The "Facebook For Every Phone" app was basically designed to work on over 3,000 feature phones, which are low-end cell phones that don't have the computing power and tempting new baubles of smartphones.

The third quarter results for Facebook jumped 60 percent from a year ago to $2.016 billion on the back of soaring advertising revenue, nearly half of it from smartphones or tablet computers. The company also disclosed increases in the number of users to 1.19 billion.

Published Date: Nov 26, 2013 07:28 AM | Updated Date: Nov 26, 2013 07:28 AM