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U.S. to lose lead for most Facebook users to India?

According to a Gartner analyst, India could soon be home to the largest number of Facebook users, beating out the U.S.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

The U.S. has long been Facebook's top market, but according to analysts, that could soon change.

Speaking to CNBC in an interview published yesterday, Gartner principal research analyst Shalini Verma said that India's strong growth and expected increase in Web users over the coming years, will help the country overtake the U.S. in total Facebook users.

"India could overtake the United States in the next three years," Verma said during the interview with CNBC. "Last year, Facebook users in India doubled. Growth will be driven by mobile internet users in second- and third-tier cities."

If that does, in fact, happen, it'll be an impressive feat. At the end of March, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Facebook had 169 million monthly active users in the U.S., up 15 percent compared to the same period last year. In India, Facebook tallied 51 million active users at the end of that period, representing a 107 percent increase.

However, according to CNBC, which spoke with Suhale Kapoor, an executive vice president at analytics and research firm AbsolutData, India's Internet population is expected to more than triple in the coming years, paving the way for it to overtake the U.S. in Facebook use.

For its part, Facebook has acknowledged in SEC filings that it views India as a key growth opportunity in the coming years, and will focus efforts on that country, as well as a few others it thinks are ready to jump on the social network's bandwagon.

"We continue to focus on growing our user base across all geographies, including relatively less-penetrated, large markets such as Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea," the company wrote in its S-1 Registration Statement. "We intend to grow our user base by continuing our marketing and user acquisition efforts and enhancing our products, including mobile apps, in order to make Facebook more accessible and useful."