Facebook’s transformation into a mobile company is complete

Investors are likely to be happy with Facebook’s third-quarter earnings results, which were announced this afternoon. All of the company’s most important metrics — from the number of people who use its service to how much money it makes — beat expectations. Wall Street might also appreciate something else shown in the report: Facebook’s efforts to become a mobile-focused company appear to have come to fruition.
It wasn’t too long ago when people were concerned Facebook couldn’t survive the shift from the desktop web to mobile applications. The service’s newest features, such as Graph Search, appeared on desktops before smartphones. It hadn’t yet started to make piles of cash from mobile advertisements. And it wasn’t as popular among smartphone owners as it was among web users.
All that has changed. Some of Facebook’s most interesting features, like redesigned profiles or the pseudo-artificially intelligent assistant called M, debut on smartphones first. And this earnings report shows that Facebook’s mobile-only users continue to rise, as does the percentage of revenues drawn from advertisements shown to those smartphone owners around the world.
First the mobile-only users. Facebook said in its report that it has 727 million monthly active users who only use its service on their smartphones — a large increase from even just two years ago, when it had 254 million similar users. (It’s worth noting that Facebook calculations for monthly active users includes people who use its service to log into other non-Facebook apps, so these figures are likely to be inflated.)
Next, the revenues drawn from mobile advertisements. The company says the category represents 78 percent of total advertising revenue, as compared to the 66 percent slice of total advertising revenue it represented a year ago. Facebook doesn’t just have more people accessing it via their smartphones, it’s also monetizing each of those users better than it has in the past, too.
It would be interesting — especially to investors — to see Facebook break out the numbers on how much of that money comes from Instagram’s new ads, or how many people use WhatsApp on their smartphones. The company has bought up quite a few smaller competitors over the years, and knowing how each has contributed to their new corporate overlord would be welcome.
But investors aren’t waiting for that information to indicate their approval of this latest report. Facebook’s share price rose from around $103 to roughly $106 in after-hours trading this evening. Facebook’s gone mobile, and if nothing else, that means it should make Wall Street happier than ever before.