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Facebook to Hit 1bn Users by August

Facebook is set to reach 1 billion users by the end of 2012, according to analytics firm iCrossing.

iCrossing has extrapolated data announced at Facebook’s F8 conference in September and predict that the site will reach the milestone as soon as August 12 this year.

A population of 1 billion Facebook users amounts to three times the population of America – the site’s country of origin.

The announcement comes amid news of a slowdown for the site in the UK and US, however, iCrossing explained that emerging markets more than compensate for the downturn; India has added 14 million users and Brazil a further 7 million users over a nine month period.

As Facebook’s IPO (initial public offering) looms – some predict it could be as early as May this year – many are concerned how this will translates into revenue.

Facebook’s advertising revenue has continued from strength to strength and revenue has grown to $US3.8 billion (£25 billion) in 2011 from just $US264 million (£172.5 million) in 2008, according to estimates from research firm eMarketer.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said: “I built this as a product and not initially as a company. What ended up happening after we started hiring more people and building out the team is I began to get an appreciation that a company is a great way to get a lot of people involved in a mission you’re trying to push forward.”

The company’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, explained Facebook’s goals as part of the interview. She said: “We want to see sharing increase. We want to see users continue to grow, but as we already have more and more users, the growth comes from activity. We are really emphasising what people do.”

Facebook may be solidifying its position at the top of the tree, but there are some sizeable competitors waiting in the wings to steal its perch. Google+ had a few stumbles in the aftermath of the hype around the network’s launch, but some projections expect it to hit 400 million users by the end of 2012.

Considering that Google+ could reach 400 million users in just 18 months and it has taken Facebook eight years to reach a billion, it seems that true competition could be on the horizon.

It is definitely an interesting time for the social behemoth. How well it will fair against competitors and the changes that becoming a public company will bring – only time will tell.

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