Facebook users in India have doubled in last one year

Popular social networking site Facebook finds India a major growth market, where the number of users have more than doubled in the past one year, as against near-zero penetration in the neighbouring China.

For Facebook, looking to raise USD 5 billion through initial share sale, India is a key source for future growth. The growth of 132 per cent in India has been higher than many other countries, including home market in US.

"We have achieved varying levels of penetration within the population of Internet users in different countries," Facebook has said, while noting that its penetration rate in India was estimated to be 20-30 per cent. "... in China, where Facebook access is restricted, we have near zero penetration.

We continue to invest in growing our user base, particularly in markets where we are relatively less penetrated,"  according to Facebook's documents for IPO filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Facebook monitors its user base through the number of Monthly Active Users (MAUs), among other metrics. An MAU is a registered Facebook user who logs in and visits Facebook, shares content or indulges in other activities in the last 30 days as of the date of measurement.

"As of December 31, 2011, we had 845 million MAUs, an increase of 39 per cent from December 31, 2010," it noted.

"We experienced growth across different geographies, with users in Brazil and India representing a key source of growth," Facebook said.

"... we had 46 million MAUs in India as of December 31,2011, an increase of 132 per cent from the prior year," Facebook said. It noted that growth in the US was 16 per cent and 268 per cent in Brazil for the same period.

Facebook had 161 million MAUs in the US and 37 million in Brazil as on December 31, 2011. According to the social networking major, it faces competition from Internet giant Google's social media platform Orkut in India, among other rivals in different countries.

Listing out its strategy, Facebook said it would "continue to focus on growing our user base across all geographies, including relatively less-penetrated, large markets such as Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea".

It added, "We compete broadly with Google's social networking offerings, including Google+, and also with other, largely regional, social networks that have strong positions in particular countries, including Cyworld in Korea, Mixi in Japan, Orkut (owned by Google) in Brazil and India..."

Facebook has operation teams to provide support for users, developers, and advertisers in four regional centres, including one at Hyderabad in India. It is planning to list shares on the New York Stock Exchange after its Initial Public Offer (IPO), which could value the company as high as USD 100 billion.

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