Facebook’s new testing ground is India

The social network should introduce more regional features and languages to attract users in India which is set to become its largest base within two years. It recently sent a team of engineers to analyze the market.
Written by Nitin Puri, Contributor

Facebook's aim, or mission as I call it, is to literally get everyone online to sign up. Even though it's been around for quite some time now, some are now turning away, as not only are they not finding it to be productive, but the constant privacy setting changes and introduction of new features, such as Graph Search, make it confusing for some. That being said, there are still those who have yet to sign up, and that group is the youth within India.

Incidentally earlier this month, the Delhi High Court ruled that Facebook must ensure all subscribers are 13 years or older, and ensure this information was explicitly displayed on the sign up page. Still, that won't deter those who want to become Facebook subscribers.

Realistically speaking, the Delhi High Court is not going to come after those who violate these terms, unless there has been proven account abuse or other forms of cyber crimes committed from that account. Again, this is somewhat of a gray area within India. Why? Well in the past those who have expressed themselves against politicians or political parties in Mumbai have been arrested, causing even more uproar online. Clearly, not really the world’s largest democracy after all.

So, how will Facebook be able to reach out to those who don't have the latest and greatest Google Android or Apple iPhone devices?It recently sent a team of seven engineers to India from Menlo Park in California to study the market.


It's interesting that while the norm is to spend a large amount of money, up to US$600 for a device, many in India are content and able to use services such as Facebook on a device that only costs US$40, according to The Times of India.

Now of course, there are some tradeoffs, such as slower graphics and images being loaded, but here's the thing about Facebook in India that perhaps has been overlooked to a certain degree, and why the Delhi High Court is ensuring subscribers must be 13 years or older to use Facebook.

While India still has one of the most affordable rates for both local and domestic calls, and also local and domestic SMSes, the data package plans being offered now make if even more appealing to communicate and keep in touch via Facebook.

Sure, there's the option to chat, send messages, post on someone's wall, and so forth, and for some who are on a tight budget, this is perhaps this best option now available to keep in touch. More so as the masses can be reached with a single message. That's not to say Indian Facebook users don't like to view images or play apps. However, it's simply become a more favorable tool in keeping in touch with family and friends.

In my opinion, if Facebook wants to attract even more of a subscriber base within India, they should look at introducing more regional features and languages, as India is such a culturally diverse country from coast to coast. Even introducing something such as a language translator would benefit those in the North and South, respectively. Something to think about and perhaps suggest to CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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