LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE ASIA CONGRESS 2011: Facebook expects mobile to be the main source of its next billion users as smartphones become more powerful and the value of adding social tools to devices is realised. “We expect our next billion users will come primarily on mobile,” Facebook VP for partnerships and corporate development Vaughan Smith said this morning in Hong Kong.
“We see people talking about all of the capabilities of the device that are out there. When we look at what we should be talking about, we think that mobile is much more powerful when you add social. And we think the confluence of those two trends are the most important thing going on in technology over the next ten years,” he added.
Facebook currently has 350 million of its 800 million users around the world accessing the service on mobile devices, with twice as many actual visits coming via mobile devices rather than desktops. And mobile is expected to become much more significant in the coming years.
Facebook’s focus on mobile has gone beyond smartphones with the introduction of the Snaptu-developed Java-based app for feature phones in July, which is now the most used Java app in the world, according to Smith. The company is also working to bring Facebook to non-Java feature phones. “We continue to invest in making a richer experience for feature phones because that is where so many of the users in Asia currently are,” Smith said.
Smith also stressed the value that Facebook is creating for mobile operators and other technology players. “Facebook is the number one reason that people are buying mobile data and Facebook is the catalyst for people to spend more money on smarter phones. That’s going to enable our operator partners to make more money and to help take users to where we all want them to go,” he said.
In terms of developers, Smith said Facebook views itself as a platform that developers can use to access social information. Smith referred to the success of gaming company Zynga which is now one of the biggest games companies in the world four years after first building games on Facebook.
“We want to create a platform that lets every developer access the social graph and do what we did to photos to all of the other services that are available,” Smith said.