Facebook marches toward mobile
As Facebook celebrates its IPO, look forward to it placing a much larger emphasis on mobile
The highly-anticipated Facebook IPO will be happening soon and along with creating many billionaires and millionaires, it will be a watershed moment for for businesses and consumers. Don’t expect it to rest on its laurels though, as Facebook will have to make a larger push into mobile to be worth all the hype and capital.
I’ve written about Facebook’s mobile ambitions many times and it has always said the right things. In its filings to become a public company, it even listed mobile as a major threat for it moving forward because it’s ads aren’t as prevalent on the smaller screen.
It knows how important mobile is and sees it as a threat, why has it taken Facebook so long to get its act together?
If you look at the Facebook apps, it’s not very pretty. The iPhone version is nice to look at but it’s slow as molasses, the Android version is quite ugly and don’t even get me started on the BlackBerry app. Some of the specific service apps like Facebook Messenger are functional but I think it’s a stretch to say it’s an amazing experience.
So why does Facebook get more users from mobile than on the desktop now? I think it’s a combination of momentum, a sea change in smartphone adoption and the lack of inspired competition. None of these are things Facebook can rely on long term.
Facebook has 900 million users and that social graph isn’t going away anytime soon. Combine that with more people buying smartphones and millions will check Facebook on the go even if it’s not a great experience. I also think the competition is lacking (Path’s too limiting) and Facebook smartly took out Instagram with a cool billion offer.
We’re starting to see Facebook get this and we’re starting to see the beginning parts of its mobile vision. Perhaps taking inspiration from Instagram, it recently redesigned the News Feed on smartphones to make the pictures three times larger. It should lead to a much more pleasant experience.
The launch of the App Center also gives us a peek at where Facebook is going with these always-connected devices. This currently will just highlight some popular apps that use Facebook Connect and it will kick you out to the App Store or Google Play to download the program. This is just the tip of the spear, though.
We already know that Facebook drives a ton of traffic to mobile apps and it can quickly become a kingmaker. For example, the video apps Viddy and SocialCam now have millions of users and dollars because of its prominent position in Facebook’s New Feed. Providing these analytics or even selling paid placement could be a very lucrative business for the world’s largest social network.
I could also see Facebook starting to cultivate its own mobile app store for Android, kind of like how Amazon did for its Kindle Fire. Developers would be willing to give Facebook a 30 percent cut of revenues because of Facebook’s unmatched position in the attention stream.
Who knows? This small App Center could be the start of something larger. It could be the first real glimpse we get about what to expect from the much-rumored Facebook Phone.
In: Smartphone · Tagged with: Facebook, marches, Mobile, toward