Facebook now averages 1.1 billion users per day, according quarterly results announced on Wednesday, which also revealed the company made more money on mobile advertising alone than the whole business took in during the same period last year.
When its flagship product hit the billion-user milestone on 24 August, the company took a victory lap; now that appears to be slightly below the norm.
The tech behemoth’s other platforms are expanding, as well: founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Instagram has topped 400 million monthly active users, and that WhatsApp has passed the 900 million mark “and continues to be on a path to reach a billion users and beyond”.
The mobile ad world is growing by leaps and bounds – so quickly, in fact, that analytics firm eMarketer predicts that Facebook’s global market share will actually shrink from 38.4% to 33.7% even as its revenues increase dramatically.
Zuckerberg was guarded on virtual reality, saying that Facebook was “committed to Oculus and virtual reality for the long term”, but adding that he expected it to take a while before the company reaped the full benefits of its $2bn investment in Oculus Rift last year.
“These kinds of new platforms take a long time to develop,” he said. “We think virtual reality and augmented reality could be the next big computing platform, but in terms of how other computing platforms have developed, the first smartphones came out in 2003, and in the first year BlackBerry and Palm Treo sold in the hundreds of thousands of units.”
He also said that while the company would initially look for footholds in the gaming market, he believed that coming investment outside games wasn’t coming any time soon. “We think the next thing that will be huge will be video and immersive experiences, both in terms of the content they share on Facebook today, and in terms of premium short-form and long-form. I don’t expect folks to be investing a huge amount in 2016.”
Palmer Luckey, Oculus’s chief executive, said on Tuesday that “I’d be very surprised if 15 years from now, we’re all still carrying around little slabs in our pocket that we have to pick out and use, when instead we can just project virtual information into our environment.”
‘Business are lagging behind consumers in transitioning to mobile’
Facebook attributed 78% of its $4.29bn advertising revenue to mobile. All revenue across the business amounted to $3.2bn during the third quarter of 2014; this quarter, mobile ads alone accounted for $3.35bn.
“We had a good quarter and got a lot done,” said Zuckerberg in a statement to shareholders. “We’re focused on innovating and investing for the long term to serve our community and connect the entire world.”
Mobile monthly active users alone were 1.39 billion.
The company has made major inroads into news distribution over the last few months, partnering with organizations including the Guardian to distribute stories and videos over its platform.
Facebook is also about to expand its news business into a new app called Notify, which will stand alone from Facebook and allow users to subscribe to and personalize mobile notifications from participating publications. The app could launch as early as this week, according to the Financial Times.
“Business are lagging behind consumers in transitioning to mobile,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operations officer. The mobile ad market, she said, was booming as companies looked for platforms that had strong mobile penetration. “We’re really pleased with the marketer demand for Instagram ads.”
The company doesn’t break out its ad revenues by product, but eMarketer estimates that Instagram ad revenues will break $600m this year. In terms of mobile, the firm expects Instagram to surpass both Twitter and Google in terms of net revenues by 2017.
Sandberg denied that the companies cannibalize each other. “We believe we’re not competing between Facebook and Instagram,” she said. “We’re competing with other forms of media.”
This article was written by Sam Thielman in New York, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 4th November 2015 22.12 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010