The smartphone is the de facto mode of Internet access for an increasing number of people in India and Facebook Inc. is aggressively reaching out to developers in the country to consolidate its mobile presence.
The company is bringing its FbStart program to Bangalore and Gurgaon, near New Delhi, through full-day events this week, Facebook said in a press release Tuesday, adding that more developers in India are building apps with Facebook than in any other market outside the U.S.
“Since we launched FbStart, our program to help early-stage mobile developers, we’ve distributed benefits worth more than $50 million to startups in Asia Pacific and held FbStart events around the globe,” the company said. More than 70 percent of Facebook developers are located outside the U.S., it said.
The surge to engage software programmers in India comes on the heels of Internet.org, which Facebook launched in the subcontinent last year, and followed it up with a slew of free websites and services made accessible through the Internet.org mobile app to Indian wireless subscribers.
FbStart is a program the company announced in April last year, offering free tools as well as technical support from Facebook’s in-house software engineers and experts to help developers build mobile apps and startups that could be integrated with Facebook.
Of the benefits distributed, some $20 million went to developers in India, which has the largest user base outside the U.S. for some of the best-known Internet giants, including Facebook, Twitter Inc., LinkedIn Corp. and Google Inc.
The country’s Internet user base is projected to cross half-a-billion in about two years, and its smartphone market is set to overtake that of the U.S. to become the largest behind China by 2017.
“There’s an amazing opportunity for Indian-based developers to work with Facebook to grow their businesses, and we are doubling down on our investment in the country,” Ime Archibong, director for strategic partnerships at Facebook, said in the release.