For Facebook, the key to new users lies with feature phones overseas

As far as Facebook(s fb) is concerned, it might have 1 billion users, but there’s still plenty of room for growth — overseas. Facebook announced Sunday night that it now has 100 million monthly active users who access the app on feature phones, showing remarkable growth among users without smartphones in countries like India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Smartphone shipments just surpassed feature phone shipments in April of this year, but even as smartphone adoption grows, feature phone are still big business. Nearly half of the 418.6 million handsets shipped during the first quarter of 2013 were feature phones. And for Facebook, the people buying these phones represent an entire demographic of potential new users.
The company noted in a blog post that getting Facebook access to more people hits at the company’s core mission of connecting people around the world. And it also accomplishes one of Facebook’s primary goals, which is finding ways to satisfy existing users, but also maintaining growth even as it has more than 1 billion active users around the world.

“This is an important milestone for us. Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected, and Facebook For Every Phone enables people around the globe to connect to the people and things they care about most, no matter what kind of mobile device they use.
Today, millions of people in developing markets like India, Indonesia and the Philippines are relying on this technology to connect with Facebook, without having to purchase a smartphone.”

Facebook first introduced the feature phone app in 2011, and it’s now running on 3,000 different types of feature phones, most of which are fairly inexpensive. For Facebook, it’s a great way to hook potential new users who might not be checking Facebook all the time, but who might think about purchasing a smartphone in the future — at which point, they’d already be regular Facebook users.