Facebook Applications Have A Slow Holiday Season

While Facebook may have been the most popular website in the United States on Christmas day, Facebook applications saw traffic decline over the past couple weeks during the holiday season. Zynga, the largest Facebook application developer, saw traffic stagnate at around 230 million monthly active users for the two weeks starting December 14th. While Zynga had a slow pre-Christmas, RockYou wasn’t dramatically affected until Christmas day. The story is the same for most Facebook applications, except those which were holiday oriented.

Also of significance was the continued growth in wall posts by applications, using a strategy we first highlighted last week when discussing the rapid ascent of pillow fights on Facebook. Whether or not the lull in Facebook application traffic will be sustained beyond the new year is not yet known. As of yesterday, application traffic remained down but it’s not surprising considering that most people just got back into the swing of things today.

Seeing application traffic flatten for a short period of time is not surprising around this time, however any continued decrease in traffic to these applications should be noted. Less surprising was the dramatic growth in mobile Facebook usage over the holidays. The Facebook for iPhone application grew 19 million monthly active users to over 23 million monthly active users since December 14th. There was also a dramatic jump of 700,000 daily active users right after Christmas, most likely a result of the millions of people who received an iPhone for Christmas.

The jump in usage also highlights how big of a role mobile is playing in Facebook’s overall growth. In Africa, for example, Facebook has become the most visited website according to a new report from Opera. None of this mobile usage is currently helping application developers in a significant way though. While there are clues pointing to third-party application support within the Facebook for iPhone app, most mobile Facebook users are not using the device to interact with applications.

We’ll keep an eye on Facebook application traffic over coming days and weeks to see if the decreased growth becomes a sustained trend.

Slug image via Crone and Bear It

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