Photo: Kevin Smith, Business Insider
Benedict Evans, an independent technology analyst based in London, has put together statistics on Facebook’s mobile usage, giving a picture of which platforms matter most for the social network.According to Evans, Facebook itself quietly published statistics on usage of its mobile apps until late last year, when it stopped. These numbers are as of September 2012—the most recent available.
Facebook has 1.07 billion users. 604 million of them are mobile.
470 million of those users access Facebook on some kind of smartphone app, leaving 134 million who access it solely via the mobile Web version.
Apple is the most important platform for Facebook: 140 million iPhone users, 45 million iPad users.
Android is a close second at 175 million—more than iPhone alone, and growing faster.
RIM’s BlackBerry platform had less than 60 million users.
A Facebook app for non-smartphone “feature” phones had 75 million users.
Nokia and Windows Phone usage was insignificant.
The most controversial finding was that mobile Web usage was smaller than iPhone or Android usage, which contradicts a statement Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made last fall about mobile Web usage being bigger than iPhone and Android put together.
A simple explanation: Many iPhone and Android users likely access Facebook on both the mobile Web and native apps—it’s not either-or, the way Evans chose to present the numbers.
After a long time spent trying to develop its site using mobile Web technologies, Facebook has more recently been emphasising improvements of its native mobile apps, especially the Android version, to the point of strongly encouraging employees to switch to Android so they can better test the app.
It’s clear that Facebook has a bigger opportunity on Android than on the iPhone: 70 per cent of iPhone users use Facebook on an app, while only 40 per cent of Android users do, according to Evans.