By Anne Collier
US parents may be interested to see the Times of India’s account of single mom Darshana Verma “who never learned to use a computer and saved for 10 months,” spending more than half a month’s income on mobile phones for her two children. Verma told the Times that the access to Facebook and the Internet these phones bring her kids represents opportunities she never had. She must not be alone, given the way social media use is taking off in India, where cellphone sales will surpass 206 million units a year by 2014, Gartner Group projects. The Times cites Nielsen figures as showing that “cheaper Internet-ready phones may make India Facebook Inc’s biggest market after the US next year with more than 50 million users…. The number of active [Facebook] accounts jumped 85% to 32 million this year,” the Times cites market research site Socialbakers.com data as showing. “That’s the world’s third-biggest behind the 153 million in the US and 39.2 million in Indonesia.” The number of Indian Google+ users is catching up to the US too, with 3.62 million Indian users through July 24 vs. 6.44 million in the US by that date. India’s already No. 2 for LinkedIn.com, and Twitter’s seeing big growth there as well, the Times reports.
As for purely mobile social networking, “Research In Motion Ltd said its growth in emerging markets such as India and Indonesia has largely been driven by social networking applications like Facebook for BlackBerry 2.0. Rival Huawei Technologies Co sells phones with a “Facebook button.” A representative of the latter company told the Times that if a phone doesn’t have a Facebook button, a company’s going to miss out on selling about 10 million phones. Because most cellphones Indians use don’t have Web browsing, Facebook has an app that sends status updates via a basic cellphone’s text messaging feature (it’s different from Facebook’s new messaging app that aggregates all messaging tools – emails, text messages, chat messages, and Facebook Messages – all in one app separate from the mobile Facebook App, Forbes reports). The Times says Google is now testing an app like that in the US and India. [See also: “Indonesia’s come-from-nowhere tech frenzy tantalizes investors from Silicon Valley to New York” in the Washington Post, reporting that, right now, this “Muslim majority nation of 240 million people – despite the tangled balls of telephone wire that dangle precariously over dusty, potholed roads – boasts the world’s second-largest number of Facebook users and is third for Twitter.”]