Saturday, 6 April 2013



Facebook pushed out a major update to its mobile Messenger app. Alongside the ability to send text and photo messages, users will now have the ability to send voice messages via a WiFi or cellular data connection. What’s more, the company is beginning testing of a new VoIP feature that will allow users to make phone calls over mobile web. The move by Facebook is another play to popularize the social network amongst mobile users. There are already over 600 million monthly active Facebook mobile users, and around 126 million of these are mobile only. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself admits, it is from mobile users that Facebook will get its next billion users.

What is most exciting about these new updates to the Facebook Messenger app is the potential it has for mobile users, particularly those in emerging markets. Smartphones are becoming increasingly more cheap and therefore more attainable for emerging market consumers. Android phones and tablets are already available for less than $50. With the ability to make phone calls and send messages (voice and text) for free over WiFi or at a cost over mobile data, Facebook has acquired a whole new utility for these mobile phone users.

Although the Messenger app is not entirely focussed on emerging market mobile users, unlike Facebook Zero or Google Free Zone, the changes will be sure to garner consumer attention. With 6-month user growth rates already at about 20% for developing nations like Brazil, India, and Indonesia (three of Facebook’s top 5 markets), the update will likely continue Facebook’s rapid user growth. As new features continue to roll in, it will be exciting to watch these user bases continue to expand.



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