Facebook growth rate could fall by half in next year

Here is a simple model I made of Facebook’s growth over the past few years and into the near future.

For simplicity, I set the world population to be constant at 7000 million (7 billion). I then suggested that Facebook’s equilibrium market penetration (the percentage of the world population who are at least monthly active on Facebook) is

equilibrium-market-share

where n is an adjustable parameter. (The rate of adding new monthly active users is simply, r = Meq – M).

I then got data from TechCrunch on monthly active users and the best fit of the estimation to actual numbers suggests that n is about 0.81.

estimated-Facebook-MAUs

This suggests that Facebook’s number of monthly active users might top out at about 1.6 billion by 2020. It also implies that the growth in new monthly active users should drop dramatically in the next year or two, with 4Q2015 being about one-half the rate of 3Q2013.

At this point, this is more of a curve-fitting exercise than mechanistic modeling of the real ‘physics’ behind Facebook’s growth. But it might be interesting to check back in a year or two to see how good (or not) this simple approach is at estimating growth of Facebook’s user base.

~~~

UPDATE (5 May 2014): Here is the figure above, updated with monthly active user data for the past 6 quarters.

Facebook-monthly-active-users-May-2014

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