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Third-Party Facebook Mobile Apps Get a Lot of Use

Written on
Aug 2, 2011 
Author
Gavin Dunaway  |

ADOTAS – I hate the Facebook app for the iPhone, or at least I hate my copy of it. It’s glitchy as hell, slow as (molasses) and a pain in the ass to navigate. When I need some Facebook action on-the-go, I’ve taken to using the mobile website.

I occasionally have used Tweetdeck to post to my newsfeed, but I haven’t given a lot of thought to using third-party apps to get on the social network. Interestingly enough, some research by Benedict Evans suggests that half as many Facebookers use third-party apps to do their social networking as official Facebook apps.

Third-party apps include the many available optimized for the iPad since Facebook is still yet to introduce a native app for the most popular tablet, as well as original equipment manufacturer apps that come loaded on Android-powered smartphones by HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG, etc. Evans reports that these OEM apps account for 24 million active users versus the 53 million that stick to their official Android Facebook apps.

 

According to Facebook, 250 million users access the social network via a mobile device daily; Evans research turned up about 222 million users, which leads him to estimate that 28 million are using Facebook on the mobile web.

However, he admits that the numbers he dug up from Facebook are by device and app, making for potential overlap. So, if you access Facebook via both your iPad and your iPhone, you’d be counted twice as a mobile user in Evans’ research. Evans comments he’s sure Facebook has “de-duped” the figures but isn’t sharing; while he doesn’t think the duped numbers are significant, he admits that mobile web users are higher than 28 million.

Then he adds: “But if we take only the official apps (and hence remove any possible duplication), we still get to about 200m app users versus 50m mobile web users.”

The point is that app access in general is monumentally higher than mobile website access, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, the relatively impressive amount of access with third-party apps should be of interest to advertisers. You may have noticed that Facebook doesn’t serve ads on its mobile app (or website).

Ad.ly messed around with third-party mobile social network advertising last year but admitted that the landscape was less than fruitful. Smartphone proliferation continues, however, with Android reportedly powering 50% of the world’s smartphones — it’s likely that the number of third-party Facebook app users will also continue to grow. Perhaps it’s a good time to re-examine the space.





Gavin Dunaway is Editor, U.S. at AdMonsters, a leading trade publication, event producer and service provider for the online advertising industry. Previously, he had been Senior Editor of Adotas, where he arrived after years of ping-ponging around various industry publications. This Washington, D.C. native and George Mason University graduate also enjoys playing electric guitar so loud that the walls shake.

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