Verizon Launch Pushes Facebook for iPhone Usage, But Less Than Christmas Did

There aren’t many statistics showing the full effect of the Verizon iPhone launch on Apple’s market share, but we can take a look through monthly active users of different Facebook smartphone clients as a proxy.

Facebook is far and away the most popular iPhone application in the world, and is likely on a majority of smartphone handsets in Western markets. Of the social network’s more than 200 million monthly active mobile users, about half access the site through applications, while 60 percent also use the web and 20 percent use SMS.

As a metric, Facebook monthly actives is helpful because it deduplicates users who might carry more than one iOS or Android device. Apple publicly reports that it has sold a cumulative 160 million iOS devices, while Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker used Gartner data to show that there have been around 75 million Android units shipped globally so far in one of her famous data dumps from a week and a half ago.

We see almost the same ratio in Facebook mobile usage, with the Facebook for iPhone app boasting 64.8 million monthly active users to Facebook for Android‘s 27.5 million.

1. Facebook for iPhone64,773,480+1,079,773+2%
2. Facebook for Android27,486,433+1,026,000+4%
3. Facebook for Blackberry Smartphones30,054,892+418,190+1%
4. HTC Sense6,347,712+215,676+4%
5. Samsung Mobile5,361,909+149,715+3%
6. Ovi by Nokia2,702,444+120,291+5%
7. Snaptu3,784,380+96,702+3%
8. DROID2,037,196+58,282+3%
9. LG Phone1,083,082+51,769+5%
10. Facebook for Windows Phone369,318+22,880+7%

We looked at both the Facebook for iPhone and Facebook for Android’s week-over-week gains in MAU (or monthly active users) to get a sense of how the Verizon launch affected both clients’ growth. We definitely pick up the launch in AppData, our tracking service covering apps and developers on the Facebook platform, with growth in Facebook for iPhone’s MAU coming to a virtual halt in the week before the phone came to market.

In the week after the Verizon iPhone launched on February 10, we got a pop in new usage with Facebook for iPhone adding nearly 1.1 million new monthly active users, its highest week-over-week gain in three weeks. The spike in additional monthly actives pales in comparison to what Christmas produced, but that’s because Facebook usage normally peaks around the holidays when users are far from friends. Just to be perfectly clear, the charts below shows the rate of growth, not the overall size of Facebook for iPhone or Android usage.

The Verizon iPhone launch certainly didn’t slow Android down. The platform’s growth is accelerating, with 1 million additional monthly active users compared to a just over 892,000 added the week before. (We have been tracking Facebook for Android’s growth for a shorter period of time, but will continue tracking closely this year.)

All in all, while Facebook for iPhone did add more than 1 million users this week, its growth is decelerating, suggesting that the Verizon launch will probably not sustain Apple’s marketshare. It has been less than two weeks, so it’s difficult to draw a definitive conclusion. We’ll be continuing to watch both mobile clients.