FACEBOOK REACHES 2 BILLION USERS
28 JUNE 2017 – It’s the biggest status update ever from Mark Zuckerberg: Two billion people — more than a quarter of the world’s population — hang out on Facebook at least once a month.
The milestone that Zuckerberg announced Tuesday is all the more remarkable because no other Internet company has ever reached it. If Facebook were a country, it would be the most populous.
“As of this morning, the Facebook community is now officially 2 billion people!” he said in a Facebook post announcing the milestone. “It’s an honor to be on this journey with you.”
Yet in an interview at his company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, the Facebook CEO downplayed the significance of reaching 2 billion users, instead focusing on what the giant social network has yet to accomplish: Wiring the entire planet.
“What we really care about is being able to connect everyone. So two billion, there wasn’t as much fanfare around it,” he said. “We still haven’t connected everyone.”
Zuckerberg is faced with a daunting challenge: How to keep growing when a huge chunk of people already use Facebook. The next billion will be a lot tougher to wrangle than the first two because not everyone in the world has an Internet connection and a few parts of the world are off limits to Facebook.
“The first billion is easy. The second billion is somewhat harder. Getting past that is going to be even more of a challenge,” said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “Part of it is the law of large numbers and part of it is that there are still places in the world where Facebook is blocked or people don’t have access to the Internet to get on Facebook.”
Some two-thirds of the world’s population are not on the Internet. About 15% of people live in remote regions that have no access. In other places, people have Internet access but can’t afford it or they have simple feature phones or cheap smartphones with spotty connections.
Of the 3 billion people who are the Internet, about 700 million are in China. Facebook is trying to set the stage for a return to China, where it’s been blocked since 2009. Another challenge: In some places, Facebook hasn’t managed to wrest a majority of users from local social networks.
“I do think these are large shifts that are good moments to reflect on what our responsibility is in the world and what things we can uniquely do,” Zuckerberg told USA TODAY of hitting the 2 billion user mark.
Recognizing the difficulty ahead, last week Facebook changed its mission statement for the first time. After a decade of promoting Facebook as a service that connects small groups of friends and family, Facebook is broadening its focus for the next decade to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”
Facebook reached 1 billion users in September 2012, which Zuckerberg describes as “the single milestone that I am most proud of for the company, much more than any business metric or anything like that.”
“For so long we were rallying around serving a billion people and getting to a billion people is sort of this moment,” he told USA TODAY. “But 1 billion wasn’t really the goal. It was a proxy because it was a very big round number.”
What has been remarkable to Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Jackdaw Research, is how Facebook has been able to accelerate growth in areas outside North America and Europe even as barriers to that growth increase. Dawson told USA TODAY in February that Facebook was on track to hit 2 billion users by late June.
Having saturated most major markets around the globe, Facebook is working to bring connectivity to developing countries and remote areas.
Over the last five years, the developing world has boosted Facebook’s growth as the company made its mobile app easier to use on rudimentary Android smartphones and in places where bandwidth is low, adding 746 million users in Asia and a region it calls “Rest Of World” since hitting 1 billion users.
Still, data has to be cheap enough that people in developing countries can afford it. Technology has to be built that works in areas where there is low bandwidth or none at all. And Facebook has to give people in these areas a compelling reason to go online.
For their part, investors are far more interested in how Facebook plans to cash in on the users it already has than how it plans to sign up more of them, especially in poorer parts of the world where it will be harder for Facebook to make money, says Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter.
Facebook already has an impressive percentage of people on the Internet, with 1.28 billion people using it every day. That kind of audience gives Facebook an enormous competitive advantage in growing advertising sales, he said.
U.S. revenue from digital ads will jump 32% this year, according to eMarketer. Revenue growth is being fueled by an increase in usage and time spent on Facebook, which is attracting advertisers in greater numbers, the research firm found.
Facebook has other sources of future user growth. It has three apps — Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram — that each have more than 1 billion users apiece. Instagram is also boosting revenue growth. It’s expected to generate 20% of Facebook’s U.S. mobile revenue this year, up from 15% last year, according to eMarketer.
(USA TODAY) https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/06/27/status-update-facebook-has-2-billion-users-can-reach-3-billion/103104200/ (IMAGE) https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/06/27/status-update-facebook-has-2-billion-users-can-reach-3-billion/103104200/