Nearly 20% of Facebook’s mobile users skip the website altogether

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Facebook users are increasingly passing up the company’s ad-laden website for a mobile-only experience, according to new information disclosed by the social network today.

Nearly one in five of Facebook’s 543 million mobile monthly active users (MAUs) — 102 million to be exact — accessed the social network exclusively from their mobile device in June. Even more telling is that the number of people going mobile-only has increased by 23 percent in just three months.

“Approximately 102 million mobile MAUs accessed Facebook solely through mobile apps or our mobile website during the month ended June 30, 2012, increasing 23% from 83 million during the month ended March 31, 2012,” Facebook said in a quarterly report filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Facebook also said in the report that the sequential quarterly growth in daily active users from 526 million to 552 million was almost entirely driven by mobile usage.

“The number of DAUs using personal computers was essentially flat and declined modestly in certain key markets such as the United States and Europe, while mobile DAUs continued to increase,” the company said.

The explosion of Facebook’s mobile usage is by now a well-documented fact, but the revelation that a sizable portion of mobile users are skipping the website altogether makes more apparent the riskiness of Facebook’s business.

The social network began showing Sponsored Stories, or status updates that double as ads, to users in the mobile News Feed earlier this year. The new revenue stream, which brings in roughly $500,000 a day, contributes just a small fraction to overall revenue.

Unsurprisingly, mobile was identified by CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a top priority for the company in Facebook’s first earnings call with investors and analysts.

“Mobile is a huge opportunity for Facebook,” he said. “On average, mobile users are around 20 percent more likely to use Facebook on any given day. So mobile not only gives us the potential to connect more people with our services, but it also gives us the ability to provide more value and a more deeply engaging experience.”

Zuckerberg also referred to the company’s efforts to generate revenue on mobile as “an encouraging start.” The statement, along with several others made by Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg on the call, seems to paint a picture of a mobile Promised Land where advertisers and the company can reap the rewards of an active audience that’s blossoming with each day.

The reality, however, is a bit gloomier when you consider that 23 percent more mobile users chose not to visit Facebook’s website than in the previous quarter. Facebook can’t inundate the mobile user with as many ads as it can on its website, which means the company is essentially losing money on every user that goes mobile-only.

Facebook may be sticking to its mobile-opportunity-knocks mantra, but Wall Street isn’t buying it. The stock closed down 6 percent at $21.71 Tuesday and is bumping up against the all-time low of $21.61 in after-hours trading.

Photo credit: fiduz/Flickr


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