As Google and Facebook face the Indian govt. in courts over the dispute of censoring contents, the Social networking site has achieved a new feat in worlds’ 2nd most populated country: The no. of user of Facebook has more than doubled in India over the past one year. Globally, the social networking giant first launched in 2004 as a site for Harvard students to connect online, within 8 years, has got more than 845 million users. Eighty per cent of its users reside outside of the United States and Canada. And if recent figures are any signs, India among all others now holds the centre spot in Facebook’s future growth plans.
The social networking behemoth which has been looking to raise $5 billion through initial share sale grew 132 per cent in India last year, according to the most recent data. Now, the total no. of Facebook users in India account for 5 per cent of its total global users. Facebook had 46 million active users (MAU) in India as of December 31, 2011.
Facebook monitors its user base through the number of Monthly Active Users (MAUs), among other metrics. An MAU is a registered Facebook user who logs in and visits Facebook, shares content or indulges in other activities in the last 30 days as of the date of measurement.
The growth in the US market, where it had 161 million MAUs, has been 16 per cent during the same period. Facebook has also grown impressively in Brazil as well. It has 37 million MAUs in Brazil as on December 31, 2011. In percentage terms, the growth in Brazil has been a phenomenal 268 per cent in the same period. Overal, as of December 31, 2011, Facebook had 845 million MAUs, up 39 per cent from December 31, 2010.
However, Facebook is facing issues especially in China where it has near-zero penetration since its access is restricted.
Facebook also faces competition from its peers especially Internet giant Google’s social media platform Orkut in India and regional, social networks with strong positions like Cyworld in Korea, Mixi in Japan and Orkut (owned by Google) in Brazil. To continue its growth in future, it now plans to focus in relatively less-penetrated, large markets such as Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea in coming years. In Japan, Russia, and South Korea Facebook has penetration rates of less than 15 per cent.
India, however, will remain key to Facebook’s future growth. In western markets like the United States or Britain nearly half of the population already have accounts. The user accounts grew less than 2 per cent in the US and Britain over past six months. In India less than 4 per cent of Indians have an account. The company estimates Indian Internet user base at somewhere between 153 million to 230 million.
The world’s largest social network Facebook is planning to list shares on the New York Stock Exchange after its Initial Public Offer (IPO). It could value the company, which is seeking up to 27 times evaluation, as high as $100 billion. China remains, however, a worry for Facebook’s business model.