India leads social networking growth; set to top Facebook

    By Arun Kumar, IANS,

    Washington : With more and more Indians logging onto social networking sites, India has recorded the highest growth in their usage and is set to control the largest Facebook population worldwide by 2016.

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    The US remains the single country with the greatest number of Facebook users, at 146.8 million this year, and India comes in a distant second with a mere 7.7 percent penetration, according to a new study by New York based eMarketer, an independent market research company.

    But with India’s large population and high expected growth rate, eMarketer said it believes it will develop the largest Facebook population by 2016 particularly since Facebook is banned in China.

    Growth in the number of social network users around the world may be slowing, but it shows little sign of stopping with the fastest growth in social network usage happening in less developed markets, it said.

    India, with the highest growth this year, will increase user numbers by 37.4 percent while Indonesia’s numbers will climb 28.7 percent. Mexico will grow its social network user base by 21.1 percent, said the market researcher.

    All three of those countries are also high-growth areas for Facebook, the world’s largest social network, which eMarketer estimated will reach a worldwide monthly user base of 1.026 billion this year.

    This year, eMarketer estimated, 1.61 billion people will log in to social networking sites at least monthly, from any electronic device.

    That’s a 14.2 percent gain on social networker numbers from 2012, and the double-digit growth is expected to continue for another year. By 2017, 2.33 billion people will use social networks.

    Currently, the highest penetration of social network users as a share of total population occurs in the Netherlands, where 63.5 percent of all residents are social network users.

    Norway follows just behind at 63.3 percent.

    Majorities of residents in Sweden, South Korea, Denmark, the US, Finland, Canada and Britain also use social networking sites monthly.

    eMarketer said its forecasts were based on an analysis of both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population as well as trends in specific consumer behaviours.

    (Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])