Archive for June 13, 2011

Facebook Expansion Limits

Although it approaches 700 million users worldwide, the site’s growth has slowed for the second month in a row. The number of people using Facebook during May fell in the US, UK, Canada, Norway and Russia, according to new data.

While the  UK, Norway and Russia all saw falls of more than 100,000 users, in the US the site lost about 6 million users since the begining of  May, now totalling 149.4 million users.  Also in  Canada,  Facebook lost in the same period 1.52 million users, now totalling 16.6 million users.

Although some countries are starting to loose users, in  May  Facebook added in total another 11.8 million users, but the numbers are going down as for the past year, 20 million users were typically added each month.  In total the number of  “monthly active” users  (who log in at least once per month) has reached 687 million.

Eric Eldon of Inside Facebook noted that “by the time Facebook reaches around 50% of the total population in a given country (plus or minus, depending on internet access rates in that country), growth generally slows to a halt … So far, Facebook has been able to make up stalls and losses with big gains in heavily populated developing countries like Mexico, Brazil, India and Indonesia.”

He notes that if it is allowed into China, that growth could take off again towards 1 billion users – although he adds that getting inside the country “could both give it access to hundreds of millions of users and compromise its reputation in the US and many other countries around the world”.

Despite the  fall, the US still saw a 23% overall growth in users between May 2010 and May 2011 to 155.2 million users, while the UK grew by 10% to 29.9 million in the same period. The US is the largest country in terms of users overall, with Indonesia second with 36.4m, followed by the UK and Turkey.

The slowing growth in user numbers may indicate that Facebook has hit the limits of expansion in the countries where it was first successful – and perhaps even that some early adopters from those countries have stopped using it.