Android: Facebook’s Springboard To The World

Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has always said that his goal for the company is to connect the world. With Facebook being the social network of choice in 127 countries across the globe, it is doing a pretty good job so far. However, its work is far from done. It's up to devices powered by Google's Android to continue Facebook's international vision.

Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has always said that his goal for the company is to connect the world. With Facebook being the social network of choice in 127 countries across the globe, it is doing a pretty good job so far. However, its work is far from done. It’s up to devices powered by Google’s Android to continue Facebook’s international vision.

Recently, some surprising figures came to light, showing that more smartphone users all over the world connect with Facebook through their Android devices than their iPhones. Numbers by analyst Benedict Evans revealed that, despite developers’ preference for dealing with iOS, Android is the dominant smartphone referrer to Facebook.

Evans (and later TechCrunch) showed that in the fiscal third quarter, 192 million people accessed Facebook through Android phones, 147 million through iPhones, and 48 million through iPads.

In addition, Android was the fastest-growing operating system, in terms of Facebook traffic. Evans tracked Facebook mobile usage, comparing numbers from September 2011 to September 2012. While the iPhone grew from 91 million monthly active users to 141 million, Android shot up from 66 million to 175 million. Given these numbers, it’s no secret why late in 2012, Facebook employees started “Droidfooding,” themselves.

Advertisers have followed suit. A recent study by Kenshoo Social showed that ad spending on Android phones absolutely blew away iPhone — 71 percent to 29 percent.

Evans talked with AllFacebook and noted that worldwide, there’s a big difference between iPhone users and those who have Androids in their pockets. While Android is more popular than iOS by roughly one-third in countries such as the U.S. and U.K., the Google-powered devices are much more popular throughout the world.

Evans noted that iPhone and iPad customers — willing to pay more for Apple products — are generally different types of consumers than those who use Android, which has a lower price point for entry.

Mobile users in countries less affluent than the U.S. and the U.K. have Android as the dominant option — and Facebook knows that. By making the social network accessible to more and more users (who may not be able to afford iPhones), that means there are more and more portals throughout the world where Facebook can be accessed.

If Facebook truly wants to connect the world, Android devices are the links, as Evans explained:

In the U.S. market, there’s relatively little price difference between an iPhone and an Android phone. But when you step out of the U.S. market, particularly when you remember that even half of Europeans are on prepay, so they’re paying full price for a phone, then all of a sudden, you’re looking at a $650 iPhone, as opposed to a $150 or $200 low-end Android handset … (Facebook’s focus on Android) is a reflection of a desire for Facebook to expand beyond the U.S. So, to drive share in India, and Brazil, and other emerging markets, instead of mid-tier emerging markets, where a lot of people can afford $150 or $200 for an Android, but a lot fewer can afford $600 for an iPhone. That’s where all the growth comes from.

Evans talked about how Android is growing in popularity in emerging markets. Facebook is growing right along with Android, in countries such as Brazil and Russia.

But despite the sheer number of Android users, Facebook continues to roll out products for iPad and iPhone users first. For instance, Facebook Wednesday rolled out Pages Manager to all Android users who have access to Google Play, giving page administrators a more powerful way to track and post to their pages on the go.