India hasn’t seen that much Facebook usage — until the last few months, when it’s been taking off. We noted that the service recently reached 7 million monthly active users in the country of 1.2 billion people. And now Facebook is opening an office there, in information technology hub Hyderabad. Aside from its Australia office, this is Facebook’s first office in Asia.
As with its just-finalized office in Austin, Texas, the Hyderabad location will focus on providing online sales and operations services, the company says: “By having multiple support centers in a variety of time zones, we can provide better round-the-clock, multi-lingual support.” Unlike social game developer Zynga’s recent decision to open an office in Bangalore, Facebook doesn’t appear to be tapping into the company’s inexpensive and technically skilled work force.
Even though the Hyderabad staff will be serving Facebook’s more than 400 million monthly active users around the world, expect many more of those users to be in India.
While its growth exploded around Asia last year, India has been a late bloomer. Google’s Orkut established there there years ago, as have a variety of local social networks. India reached around 3.5 million Facebook users as of the middle of 2009. The service appears to have hit an inflection point recently, though — possibly due to Facebook’s recent mobile push. While most of the country lacks a computer-based internet connection, around half the population has a mobile device. Facebook has provided a variety of mobile web sites and applications, and worked with carriers to allow customizations like SMS; it’s also planning a new site, Zero, that will allow people to access the site with only a minimal mobile data connection. Between taking users from established rivals and making itself broadly accessible, look for lots of growth for the foreseeable future. Already, Facebook notes that India is up to more than 8 million users today.