(Updated to reflect comment from Facebook)
Despite Facebook having declared itself a mobile company, and saying that all of its code is being written for mobile, Facebook decided to stop disclosing monthly active users (MAUs) for for its smartphone apps late last year.
Fortunately, London-based independent technology analyst Benedict Evans has decided to publish the data, which he says was always available but "you had to know how to get it." The numbers only go up to September 2012, the last numbers made available.
iOS vs. Android
As of September, Facebook had a total of 1.07 billion users, and 604 million of them accessed the site through a mobile device. This means that only 134 million of Facebook's users are only accessing the site through desktop. No wonder Facebook decided to go mobile!
Smartphones make up a big part of Facebook's mobile user base, with Facebook having 470 MAUs on its smartphone apps for iPhone, Android, RIM, Nokia, Windows Phone and J2ME combined in September.
Android had the biggest percentage of MAUs during the month with 16%, followed by iOS with 13%, meaning that those two apps alone accounted for over a quarter of Facebook's base.
When the numbers are broken down, Evans says that 140 million people used the iPhone app, and 176 million used the Android app, while an 45 million users accessed the social network through the iPad app. (Since there is bound to be overlap between iPhone and iPad users, these two number cannot be combined to give a total Apple number of users.)
Even more interesting, though, is how both of these platforms grew over the span of a year. That Android now outpaces iOS in MAUs is even more impressive when you realize that, in September 2011, iOS handily beat Android 91 million to 66 million.
Still, according to estimates provided by Evans, iOS still has a higher penetration rate. Evans says that the iPhone install base was 200 million in September 2012, giving it a penetration rate of 70%. He estimates that Android had an install base of 550 million, of which only 450 million would have had access to the Facebook app, giving it a penetration rate of 40%.
Apps vs. mobile web
Mark Zuckerberg said in September that more people were using Facebook on mobile web than iOS and Android apps combined, but the data supplied by Evans contradicts that statement.
The use of smartphone apps as a share of Facebook has surged, Evan says, going up from 240 million in September 2011, or 30% of the total, to 470 million, or 44% of the total, in September 2012. Meanwhile, mobile web remained flat year-to-year, remaining at around 150 million MAUs.
Evans also reports that Facebook Messenger, which was launched in August 2011, had 53 million users by September 2012, while its Camera app, which debuted in May 2012, only a month after it bought Instagram, has barely made a dent so far.
VatorNews contacted Facebook to see if these numbers provided were accurate, but a Facebook spokesperon declined to comment.
(Image source: http://www.thetelecomblog.com)