Why Is India A Key Growth Market For Facebook?
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and one of the most powerful women in the tech world, on her first official trip to India says that India is an important market for Facebook and that the social media giant is using the talent of India to grow its business both locally and globally. She discusses why India’s importance to the company and its roadmap in this burgeoning marketplace.
India: A Key market
While currently users in the US spend more time on Facebook app on their smartphones compared to any other app in terms of engagement, Sandberg sees India has tremendous potential as far its user base in concerned and could be the biggest markets for Facebook in terms of revenue in the coming years.
At present, the social media site with over a 100 million users is the second biggest market for Facebook. But, Sandberg said, this was fraction of the total population of India. She said the company was working to bolster internet connectivity in India to bring more people online.
Sandberg had expressed her interest to run global operations in the country. “We are really willing to invest here because the returns are so great to our global and local business,” she says.
She says in many ways India was already contributing to Facebook’s global operations, thanks to the strong engineering talent in the country. The company’s new feature called Click To Miss Call through which a Facebook user can give an advertiser a miss call and in return receive a call back, has been developed in India.
The mobile revolution
Facebook was time and again been criticized for missing out on the mobile opportunity. “Mobile transition was difficult one for Facebook initially, which started as a desktop company,” admits Sandberg. But she believes at present mobile is the biggest revenue generator for the social media giant. “Now we are a fully mobile company… the number one mobile application in almost every market in the world,” she asserts.
In Q1-2014, the company announced that almost a billion of its users are using Facebook services through mobile phones. Nearly 59% of its $2.5 billion revenue in Q1 came from mobile phones. In the same quarter a year ago, the share of revenue from mobile was just 30%.
To improve connectivity issues in India, Facebook is also partnering with telecom operators. It has worked with Airtel for feature phones, introduced support for nine national languages and made it available for free. “You can expect more such partnerships as we evolve our business models,” she says.
While in India, Facebook lags behind other countries in terms of revenue, Sandberg said that the company was in the process of monetizing its services here and is partnering with companies. With over 90,0000 small business in India having active Facebook pages, Sandberg sees this number growing rapidly. It will continue to looking to introduced a slew of new plans to boost revenue from this segment.
Tryst with Apps making
Dismissing rumors around Facebook looking to enter the phone market Sandberg clarifies that the company would not make phones, but will continue to compete in the smartphone industry using its ubiquitous app.
Facebook, one of the biggest technology company, does not have a hardware platform in the smartphone market. Its competitors, be it Apple has iPhone and iPad, or Google has Android-powered phones. Even Microsoft Windows Phone and Amazon, phone and tablets are competing fiercely in the devices space.
Sandberg is not perturbed with this. Emphasizing that apps have become a way of life today, she says, “We are the number one thing that people do on their phones in almost every country in the world and I don’t think we need to make hardware for phones,” said Sandberg, who believes the company doing very good with the software-based products.”
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