Facebook has 100M monthly active users in India, but where’s the money?


facebookFacebook has 100 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs) in India as of March 31, making it the only country after US to cross the mark, Javier Olivan, vice-president, growth & analytics, Facebook, told The Economic Times. This is apart from the 40-45 million users it has in India for the messaging service WhatsApp, which Facebook had acquired earlier this year.

Overall, Facebook has 1.23 billion MAUs in the quarter ended December 2013, up from 1.19 billion MAUs in the previous quarter. The average DAUs was at 757 million for the quarter, up from 728 million DAUs in the previous quarter. In August 2013, Facebook had announced that it has 82 million monthly active users (MAUs) in India for the quarter ending June 31, 2013. India accounted for 7% of Facebook’s user base, globally.

Olivan says that the challenge of going from 1 million to 10 million in India was about optimising the product for users. For example, removing the condition of needing a college email ID to access it. While moving from 10 million to 100 million, it was about improving experience on low-end devices and offering it in languages other than English. For reaching 1 billion users here, the company thinks its biggest challenge will be connectivity.

But where’s the money?

Facebook has reported 368 million monthly active users (MAUs) in Asia for the quarter ended December 31, 2013 (Q4 2013), registering a modest growth from 351 million MAUs sequentially and 298 million MAUs in the same quarter last year. Despite that, Facebook’s Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for Asia was only $0.95 in quarter ending December, much lower than ARPU of $6.03 in from US & Canada.

The company has not disclosed how much money it makes in India or what the country specific ARPU is. But chances are it might be lower than Asia ARPU. It has been taking a vertical-centric approach to its business in India and was hiring sales heads for e-commerce, FMCG & Retail business, and Managers for Agency Partnerships and Marketing Communications in December last year. It is not clear if this move has helped the company increase its ARPU here.

If the company is not able to monetize despite having such a large userbase here, it either means that the company is not doing a good enough job, or it confirms the talks of India being a notoriously difficult market to monetize.