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India, Indonesia, Philippines drive ‘Facebook For Every Phone’ to 100 million users

While India may be the third largest smartphone market, behind China and US, in terms of penetration it’s just six per cent. The rest are still dependent on feature phones. It makes sense for Facebook to push its Java based app, ‘Facebook For Every Phone’ in markets like India. Facebook announced that it has crossed a 100 million user mark each month.

The social networking site didn’t reveal any figures, yet it hinted that much of the users were coming in from India, Indonesia and Philippines. “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,” a release from the company said.

India, with 78 million registered Facebook users, is the third-largest country on the social networking site.

Facebook, earlier this year, tied up with 18 operators in 14 countries to give users free or discounted data for certain mobile apps — specifically, Messenger for Android and iOS, and Facebook for Every Phone, the Java app that runs on some 2,500 phones worldwide. Much of these operators are from Asia Pacific: Airtel and Reliance in India; Indosat, Smartfren, AXIS and XL Axiata in Indonesia; SMART in Philippines; DiGi in Malaysia; and DTAC in Thailand.

While, Facebook doesn’t earn much revenues from the Java app in terms of advertising, it’s only lately that it has started pushing ads on the ‘Facebook For Every Phone’ app.

The app is a comprehensive Facebook experience and feels more like a smartphone app. It includes Facebook’s most popular features, such as News Feed, Messenger and Photos, and provides a complete experience for first-time users, including the ability to create a new account and find friends.

This experience is optimised to use less data than other Java apps and mobile sites, making it more affordable to try and use.

Having said that, the Indian smartphone market, according to Strategy Analytics, an independent research firm, is rising quicker than China (86 per cent y-o-y), Japan (24 per cent y-o-y), the US (19 per cent y-o-y) and almost all other major countries.

The feat of acquiring 100 million users per month was achieved in two years after Facebook acquired Snaptu, an Israel-based mobile platform in July 2011. Facebook’s total mobile monthly active users eclipsed desktop users earlier this year and reached 751 million in the first quarter of 2013, a year-over-year increase of 54 per cent.