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Facebook Looks to Expand Instant Articles Service in Asia

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Facebook IncFB is looking to expand its Instant Articles service in Asia. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the social networking giant has been advertising for job openings through its Singapore headquarters for contractors who are willing to work with new publishers to develop Instant Articles for the Asian region and provide direct support to publishers who use the service.

Asia has become Facebook's area of special focus. Analysts observe that the company has been trying to boost its subscriber base as low cost smartphones help people in the region to access the Internet. The highly populated region is conducive to growth in user base and hence Facebook's special focus.

In fact, India is the second biggest market for Facebook after the United States. Per an eMarketer report, India has the world's second-largest number of Facebook users (over 125 million MAUs with mobile users comprising 90% of users as of June 2015). eMarketer expects MAUs in India to be 211.2 million by 2018. Moreover, it is expected that the country's mobile Facebook users will increase to 145.9 million, surpassing the U.S. by 2017.

Last week, the company partnered with five publishers to launch Instant Articles services on the Android platform in India. India is primarily an Android savvy market. Earlier in February, Facebook unveiled its initiative to provide free Internet to India through the Internet.org app in collaboration with Indian Telecom service provider, Reliance Communications.

Apart from India, countries like Thailand and Vietnam with their burgeoning population are important markets. Not just, Asia, Facebook is looking at a wider rollout of the service, including Latin America and Africa, in the future.

In May, Facebook launched Instant Article services for the first time in the U.S by initially partnering with the likes of The New York Times Company NYT and eight other news publishers like BuzzFeed, National Geographic, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild. The service now has 20 publishers.

The service allows media outlets to publish their stories directly on its platform. Instant Articles from Facebook not only loads significantly faster than other mobile media but also has a host of other useful features. Readers will not only be able to have a rich and hassle-free experience of viewing photos or auto-play videos with Instant Articles but will have access to interactive maps and audio captions. In fact, Facebook has designed the product in a way that users can like or comment on specific parts of the article.

Additionally, Instant Articles will allow news publishing companies to take journalism to another level, given the tools for improved visualization and increased interaction that Facebook is now providing.

Though the service was expected to be a revenue booster for publishers, it seems that currently the situation is quite the opposite. An earlier report by The Wall Street Journal had stated that publishers are facing trouble because of the social networking giant's strict restrictions.

At present, Facebook carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). A couple of other tech stocks worth considering include MeetMe, Inc. MEET and Amazon.com, Inc. AMZN . While MeetMe sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Amazon carries Zacks Rank #2.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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