Facebook grows to 471m monthly active users in Asia-Pacific, up 20 per cent on 2014

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 April, 2015, 4:41pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 April, 2015, 4:41pm

More than 270 million people across the Asia-Pacific region use Facebook every day, according to new filings from the world’s largest social network, even as the company's revenue growth came in slightly below analysts' expectations.

Asia-Pacific was Facebook’s largest region in the first quarter of this year in terms of monthly active users (MAUs), with more than 471 million, up from 390 million in the same period last year. In the US and Canada, there were around 210 million MAUs in Q1.

Strong growth in Asia and developing countries has not necessarily translated into greater profits however. Facebook said Wednesday that profit in the first quarter fell 20 per cent from a year ago but revenues got a lift from robust growth in mobile advertising.

The social network's number of worldwide users rose to 1.44 billion, up 13 per cent from a year earlier, including 1.25 billion people who access Facebook on mobile devices.

Net profit in the quarter dropped to US$509 million, amid hefty increases in spending on research and share-based compensation.

Overall revenues jumped 42 per cent to US$3.5 billion, led by advertising gains, but slightly below Wall Street forecasts as Facebook felt the impact of a strong dollar.

Excluding the impact of foreign exchange rates, revenue would have increased by 49 per cent, the company said.

“This was a strong start to the year,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and chief executive.

“We continue to focus on serving our community and connecting the world.”

Zuckerberg noted that Facebook was seeing “strong growth in engagement around the world,” suggesting that users are not turning away from the platform.

Facebook has been investing heavily in research and new projects, including a drone air fleet to deliver the internet to remote areas of the world.

Earlier on Wednesday, Facebook unveiled a new mobile application called Hello, which allows its users to see who is calling by searching the social network’s vast base of members.

It also allows users to search for people and businesses on Facebook and call them using the app.

In its quarterly report, Facebook reported the bulk of its revenues came from advertising inserted in user feeds, especially on mobile devices.

Revenue from advertising was US$3.32 billion, a 46 per cent surge from a year ago. Mobile accounted for 73 per cent of this, up from 59 per cent a year earlier.

But spending grew 83 per cent from a year ago to US$2.61 billion, in line with guidance from the company. That included more than US$1 billion on research on items such as new ad products and virtual reality, which is being integrated into Facebook offerings.

“It’s a generally solid quarter. The trends are all going in the right direction. The cost rise is one thing that can derail this story,” said Macquarie Research analyst Ben Schachter.

“The question is, can they keep costs under control and what will be the new revenue streams around video, Instagram and virtual reality around Oculus,” he said.

Agence France Presse, Reuters