Facebook Sets its Sights on Emerging Markets

The social media giant is turning its sights on the rest of the world, as it increases its efforts on providing efficient services to emerging markets. At the moment, out of the 3 billion people who have internet access in the world, 1.5 billion are active Facebook users. Give or take a few thousand with multiple Facebook accounts, that is still about 20 percent of the world’s population, and about half of internet users worldwide. However, Facebook has its sights on potentially doubling its active user count. In five years, internet access will be available to almost 3 billion more individuals, primarily from emerging markets like India and Africa.

The campaign is largely focused on appealing to emerging markets by catering to the lower bandwidth speeds found in these places. In nations like Indonesia, Singapore, and Myanmar, the service is popular but the connection is poor. These connections, that run on only 2G networks, make uploading articles and images much slower and less reliable.

“If you look at a Facebook user in Myanmar today, they can wait 40 seconds to a minute to look at what’s happening in Rangoon today…If we can lower that barrier, if we can lower that friction, it’s a huge service.” said Facebook’s Product Chief Chris Cox.

The increased efforts to improve quality hopes to convince individuals in emerging markets that the service is still valuable to them, despite lagging connections.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook; Eric Gerster

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

Facebook will be addressing connection issues with the creation of its open-sourced Network Connection Class System. The app will figure out a user’s connection speed, allowing it to adjust its Newsfeed and content uploading potential accordingly. For example, if a slow connection exists, the app will fully prioritize uploading stories the user clicks, as well as loading only low res versions of pictures and photos. Despite slower connections, this will also allow Facebook’s ads to work in emerging markets as well, guaranteeing an increase in revenue as long as users continue to use the service. In order to keep the inflow of new users from emerging markets, it has invested in programs that will bring more people online, ensuring a steady stream of users to provide services and ads to.

Facebook’s stock rose by more than 35% year-to-date through mid-December, and during the last 12 months, the company has earned 2.8 billion on revenue of 15.9 billion dollars, for a profit margin of 18% according to Yahoo Finance. It’s market capitalization rose to about 300 billion this year, putting it in the top 10 of America’s most valuable public companies. It currently dominates the mobile market, and it continues to diversify its investments in potential powerhouse technologies, like renewable energy, and virtual reality gear.