Facebook’s user count in India jumped 85 per cent to 34 million as of June this year over the 18 million last year. -Photo by AP

NEW DELHI: A senior executive at Facebook said the social networking giant anticipates its largest user base to come from India, surpassing Indonesia and the US in the near future, The Financial Times reports.

“India is our third largest market in terms of number of users and what we’re excited about and why we’re here is because some time in the future, we think that India will pass first Indonesia, which should happen soon, and then US,”

Facebook’s vice president for mobile partnerships and corporate development Vaughan Smith said. Indonesia has more than 45 million Facebook users while India follows at around 30 million users, Smith added. More than three-fourth of Facebook’s 800 million users are outside the US with users in India growing at phenomenal pace.

According to Comscore data released in June, one in three Internet user in India was a Facebook user.

Facebook’s user count in India jumped 85 per cent to 34 million as of June this year over the 18 million last year, as per Comscore.

Smith expects more number of users to come from India than the US.

Since India’s addition of around 5-7 million internet users a month, Facebook’s prospects are looking up even more.

The country’s internet population was 112 million in September, which is likely to go up to 121 million by the year end. At this rate, India will overtake the US, which has 245 million internet users, within two years, according to an IMRB and Internet and Mobile Association of India.

“We expect that majority of people in India who have phones would use Facebook as the most important thing on their phone, because that’s what we see in other markets. Which means we will have more Facebook users in India than we do in America,” Smith added.

“More than twice as many people login to Facebook from mobiles than desktops, globally. Usage is switching and the same is happening in India,” Smith said. Facebook’s statistics reveal that 350 million users access the website through mobile phones.

On Tuesday, Facebook and mobile phone chipset maker, MediaTek announced a partnership to bring social networking to low-cost feature phones or entry-level mobile phones, which may encourage more people to access the website on the go.

“We think that partnership with MediaTek will create a good, fast and engaging experience on devices that cost less than $50 and that’s a bonus for us, not just in India but in all of Asia and Africa where affordability is one of the ways for people to get on Facebook,” Smith added.

The Taiwanese chipset maker will embed Facebook on its mobile platform solution, MRE, which will be offered to handset makers. More than 40 per cent of handsets sold in India used MediaTek’s chipsets as of last year.

The report in The Financial Times also stated that MediaTek’s corporate vice president Cheng-Te Chuang said it was working with the Indian brands such as Micromax and Spice Mobility to offer the solution on affordable low-cost handsets being sold in India.

Micromax mobile business director Vikas Jain said the company will launch three handsets with the embedded solution by the end of this month, which will be priced below Rs 5,000.

Spice Mobility managing director Dilip Modi said the company will launch one to two devices next month, priced between Rs 2,000 and Rs 8,000. Modi added that they are also talking to mobile operators for bundling of the new device with data plans.

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