The growth in consumers accessing social networks via mobile means the total number of global social media users is now in excess of 1bn, according to figures from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The rapid proliferation of smartphones is boosting mobile social network use in more mature markets such as the US, while low-end features phones are driving growth in emerging countries. The ITU highlights that in markets such as China and India, many consumers are using their mobile device as their primary means of accessing the internet, making the development of mobile sites and apps of paramount importance for the likes of Facebook.
Overall, Facebook remains far and away the largest social network, having recently surpassed the 900m user mark, with 90% of those that use social networks accessing Facebook, ahead of Twitter on 200m and LinkedIn with 120m members. However, the ITU highlights that while there are big global players, social networks remain heavily localised, with services such as the Chinese site QQ, Russia’s Vkontakte and Mixi in Japan all competing in the space.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already named mobile and advertising as priorities for the social network’s future revenue growth as part of the firm’s pre-IPO road show, with the firm promising to work on its mobile presence as a matter of urgency after it goes public. According to comScore, users are now spending 441m minutes browsing its site on mobile per month, versus 390m on desktop. This tipping point now means that Facebook, which makes the majority of its revenues from advertising, but is yet to launch ads on mobile, is now under acute pressure to prove it can monetise the people viewing its site via mobile phones and tablets. Although mobile ads represent huge revenue potential for the firm, with Mobile Squared forecasting USD1.2bn in the first year alone, Facebook continues to list mobile as a ‘risk’ in its IPO filing.
Zuckerberg has remained bullish during the firm’s pre-IPO road show, claiming Facebook is “just getting started” on mobile. He says the firm will focus on integrating apps into the social network, recently launching an app store where developers can sell Facebook apps in a bid to build out its eco-system. “Over the next 10 years or so, every consumer category should be transformed to be built around people,” said Zuckerberg. “People will listen to music and watch TV through Facebook.”
However, the firm will also need to make sure that it caters to the huge range of consumers globally that don’t have smartphones or mobile broadband. The ITU claims that just 8.5% of the population in developing countries could access high-speed internet on their phones last year, meaning that a huge proportion of those using Facebook can only use a basic version of the site, such as Facebook Zero, limiting the site’s ability to make money.
|16 May 13|
|14 May 13|
|13 May 13|
|10 May 13|
|08 May 13|