Buried in Facebook’s announcement that it had reached a billion users was another statistic.
Facebook also said it had 600 million mobile users. These were monthly active users (MAUs) as of September, according to the Facebook Key Facts page. This is Facebook’s first update on MAUs since its last earnings report in late July. If the 600 million user number is reliable, it means Facebook added mobile users at a faster rate than at any time in the past. It also means that the maturing of smartphone markets in the United States and Europe haven’t yet dragged on Facebook’s mobile growth.
Let’s take apart the 600 million number.
We know Facebook had 543 million MAUs at the end of Q2 on June 30. So, by September 30 (when Q3 ends), Facebook had added 57 million users.
The quarterly gain averages out to 19 million users per month, roughly 626,000 new mobile users per day (there were 91 days in the quarter), or 26,000 new mobile users per hour. (We used the average daily rate of MAU gains to compare Facebook’s mobile growth across quarters in the chart above.)
Keep in mind that these are not mobile-only users, of which Facebook had over 100 million as of Q2. MAUs are simply users who access Facebook via a mobile device sometime in the course of a month.
Also, Facebook may have intended the 600 million as a ballpark figure. Maybe the real number as of September 30 was 605 million, or 599 million MAUs. Even with 599 million MAUs in September Facebook would have equaled the previous quarterly record (set in 4Q11 and equaled in 1Q12) of 56 million new MAUs.
We’ll look for a more exact figure when Facebook releases its Q3 earnings October 23. As of this writing, Facebook had not responded to BI Intelligence’s request for clarification regarding the number.
In any case, the avalanche of mobile users onto Facebook’s pages don’t solve the company’s problems monetizing their mobile views. They just raise the stakes.
Facebook is clearly intent on creating social media’s largest global crowd-draw. Facebook is adding hundreds of thousands of mobile users a day, and has lately focused on fast-growing emerging markets, even introducing ways for international users to connect without incurring data charges via Facebook Zero, a text-only version. Yet its mobile ad efforts are still creaky and sub-scale (notwithstanding the early promise of Sponsored Stories). Facebook faces the unenviable task of building a robust ad business from users who are increasingly mobile and also increasingly tend to hail from lower and middle-income countries. Here’s the consolation: if Facebook pulls it off, the company has the user base in place to build a massive business.
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