There are some very interesting numbers from Facebook in its 2013 eMagainze called ‘The Annual’ that TechCrunch’s Josh Constine has published, but the set of numbers that I want to think about is the mobile penetration of Facebook in Europe and specifically the United Kingdom and Sweden.
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More than half of the mobile phone users in these countries are using Facebook – over 26 million users in the United Kingdom (51% of mobile phone users in the United Kingdom) and over 4 million users in Sweden (53% of mobile phone users). During 2013 Facebook have made a number of moves to establish themselves in the mobile space, including the mis-firing launch of Facebook Home and the non-starting Facebook phone, to the increasing reliance on mobile advertising and payments via mobile.
It is now clear that Facebook has established itself this year as an online company that can work on both desktop and mobile. Given the increasing dominance of smartphones moving into 2014 (especially in BRIC countries where many consumers will bypass the laptop/desktop computer and go straight to a smartphone as their primary connected device), Mark Zuckerberg’s social network had no choice but to grapple with the mobile question.
And the results of Facebook’s mobile strategy, which has far more wins than losses, has established them as a significant player in the mobile ecosystem. I’m expecting more mobile moves from Facebook in 2014, and I’m interested to see how they handle the monetization of Instagram. While Facebook may (or may not) be the cool social network for the younger smartphone users to hang out on, the decision to keep Instagram as a separate brand may have been one of the smartest decisions during that buy-out.
If Facebook can adapt the lessons it has learned from the mobile version of Facebook to the different market segment that uses Instagram, then their mobile ambitions will be well served in 2014.
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