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Facebook reaches mobile tipping point

Zuckerberg confident that it can make more money from its apps


Published: 31 January, 2013

READ MORE: US | Facebook | Applications

The release of Facebook's Q4 financial results have shown for the first time the number of daily users on the social networking site's mobile platform has overtaken that of its desktop base. Compared to the results for the same period a year ago that number has grown significantly by 57%, amounting to 680 million active users in the fourth quarter.

It was once unclear how Facebook would monetize its mobile presence as people spent less and less time on the desktop version of the social network, but this doesn't seem to have been a problem. Less than a year ago, Facebook made no money from its mobile apps, now it contributes 23% of its ad revenue. That's an increase of 14% form the third quarter.

This has been achieved by simply adding adverts to the news feed. Commenting on the financial results Mark Zuckerberg expressed some surprise that monetizing the apps should have been so simple. There was no big protest from users about the move and it has had a negligible affect on their engagement with the app.

Considering it has done so well with little fine tuning to the way it presents its adverts, it's safe to assume that when the company does refine its approach, profits should further improve. Mark Zuckerberg is so confident in this possibility that he believes Facebook can earn more money from its mobile alternatives than its website.

"Today there's no argument. Facebook is a mobile company. As I've said before, there are three main parts of our strategy. Build the best mobile product, build a platform and services that leverage the social graph and build a really strong monetization effort" said Zuckerberg on the earnings conference call.

In addition to the increasing ubiquity of smartphones, the number of people using Facebook on a mobile device has been helped by the company's continued efforts to make its mobile apps more appealing, an effort which looks set to continue over the course of 2013.

Already, Facebook has started rolling out new features for its Messenger app, such as as logging in using only a phone number and free voice calls in certain markets, and on certain platforms. Some of these features, like the ability to send short voice messages, have already started filtering through to its native smartphone apps.

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