The Importance of Social Mobile: Facebook Goes All In On Mobile
At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Facebook confirmed two things:
- The future of social is mobile (social mobile)
- HTML5 is the new standard for their social apps
Speaking after a keynote speech at Mobile World Congress, Facebook Chief Technology Officer Bret Taylor said that “Facebook would have been a mobile application if the technology had been available when Mark Zuckerberg was building it in his dorm room.” He went on to claim that mobile phones offer a more natural experience of the social network because they allow more rapid sharing of pictures and material due to their permanent connectivity. Taylor also pointed out that mobile phones instantly alert users if they are tagged or mentioned on the site.¹
Facebook’s move to mobile is not surprising, especially given the speed of mobile adoption globally. Google underscored the trend by announcing that daily activations of its Android devices have reached 850,000.²
Facebook is pushing to make mobile web standards more uniform by adopting HTML5 technology. HTML5 allows web software developers to make apps for a wider range of devices without having to test them on each one individually. The move has been carefully choreographed by Facebook.
On February 24th, the week leading up to the Mobile World Congress, Facebook’s James Pearce wrote on its developer blog, “Since we brought Facebook Platform to mobile last year (October 2011), Facebook’s mobile users have been able to access many of their favorite Facebook apps and games from their smartphones. Developers of mobile apps have embraced the platform for social discovery and are starting to benefit from the distribution it brings. Four months later, Facebook has 425 million monthly mobile users - and the platform sends more than 60 million visitors every month to apps and games. Mobile visitors were responsible for more than 320 million visits to mobile apps last month.”
Then came Facebook’s announcement at the Mobile World Congress that the company is working to help create standards to make developing web apps easier.
DOLLARS AND SENSE
Facebook’s shift to the mobile web makes sense, especially given that the company is not thrilled about the 30% cut they have to pay Apple for all transactions made through its iOS native app. In a related move, a number of major telecom companies, including Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, have signed deals with Facebook. Such agreements with mobile networks allow Facebook to implement direct billing through mobile, alleviating its dependence on Apple and Google.
The adaption of HTML5 and web-based app development is a smart move for Facebook; it will increase its mobile influence even more, since developers won’t need to create separate apps for every platform (iOS, Android, etc.) and can integrate Facebook’s Open Graph with a web app to reach its huge audience.²
Facebook’s move further underscores the Internet’s shift to mobile and social. With worldwide mobile usage exploding, social networks like Facebook will increasingly rely on uniform mobile web standards to provide efficient up-to-the-second interactivity for their millions of users. In light of this fact, it is no wonder that Facebook is supporting web-based HTML5 technology.
¹ The Telegraph, MWC2012: 'Facebook should have been a mobile app'
² Marketing Land,” Google’s Smartphone Dominance, Tablet Weakness And Surprising Mobile Ad Numbers”