Facebook Aims For Next Billion Users
In just eight years, Facebook signed up more than half the world’s Internet population.
The company now wants to reach every single person on the Internet, regardless of whether they are logging on from a laptop in America, an iPhone in Japan, or a low-tech phone with a tiny screen in Nairobi.
International growth is crucial to maintain its dominance as the world’s largest social network. In Japan, it lets users list their blood types, which the Japanese believe give insight into peoples’ personality and temperament.
In Africa, Facebook markets a stripped-down, text-only version of its service that works on low-tech mobile phones.
The company stated that it is trying to build a service that everyone in the world can use. However overseas growth that once seemed to come so easily is slower now. The company has already saturated most major markets around the globe. 8 out of 10 Facebook users are outside of the U.S.
Facebook must persuade users to sign up, and make sure it remains popular with the users it already has, or risk being knocked from its lofty position.
Naomi Gleit, the product manager in charge of growth at Facebook, says that the future of the company is on mobile devices, the medium by which most people will experience the Web in coming years. Facebook now works on more than 2,500 different phones, helping it gain a foothold in emerging markets. The company is also building strong relationships with mobile phone operators around the world.
Facebook’s toughest challenge by far is that it is cut off from a third of the world’s population, due to the fact that the Chinese government, which censors most major U.S. social media websites, has blocked Facebook since 2009.
This is a major issue for a company intent on global domination. China’s more than half a billion Internet users spend a massive portion of their days on Chinese social media sites. Zuckerberg would like to find a way to enter China, but even with the recent leadership change there, most analysts say it’s unlikely.
The company says that growth isn’t just a numbers game. The team focuses on building products that encourage users to be more active on Facebook and spend more time there. These kinds of efforts are crucial, especially in markets where Facebook’s growth has slowed.