Facebook Headed Toward Mobile Folly?

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facebook_phoneADOTAS – I was amused when Facebook CTO Bret Taylor bragged yesterday that a third of the social network’s 600 million users log in via mobile. Oh yes, I’ve logged on through my iPhone app, but I hate it. I think it sucks — it’s slow, hard to navigate and it takes forever to do anything. I find it easier to read my news feed through TweetDeck.

This is one man’s opinion (I also kind of hate my iPhone in general — perhaps I am a Luddite) and I have plenty of friends that never seem to exit the Facebook app. However, 72% of people on Amplicate share my hatred of the Facebook iPhone app — the results from a Google search of “facebook iphone app sucks” are quite amusing.
I remember over the summer when Facebook’s mobile head was bitching on Twitter about working with Android. CEO Mark Zuckerberg last year shifted the blame to Google for why the Android app was lousy.

Foursquare and other location-based mobile social networks are still soaring, because Facebook’s mobile game isn’t up to snuff. Facebook Places should have crushed the smaller competition, but instead Foursquare got more signups when Facebook introduced its check-in system.

You know what’s ludicrous? The most popular social network in the world has no iPad app.

But now Taylor says mobile is on the top of Facebook’s agenda in 2011, and he tells TechCrunch that the social network is building a version optimized for all tablets — not necessarily a native iPad app. In addition, the acquisition of Rel8tion signals Facebook is going to make a serious mobile advertising move.

Also the rumors are circling that HTC will introduce a Facebook smartphone next month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The phone will employ the Android OS but feature Facebook’s social layer, giving the social network access to everything in your mobile world. Hoo boy.

It’s classic Zuckerberg — he wants to recreate the system, not work within it, because he can make it better. Or he thinks he can.

But I think Facebook’s mobile efforts have been lackluster so far — perhaps like social for Google, mobile is just not Facebook’s forte. Thoughts?

2 COMMENTS

  1. I agree completely that the FB iPhone app is a pain to use, and if Fb is crowing about this they are making a mistake. I don’t agree with your sentiments about the iPhone…not sure exactly what you are expecting from it that you would “hate” it!

    Anyway, FB should take some of their billions and build a stellar app for all smartphones, not just the iPhone.

  2. It is astonishing that so many Facebook users access the site from a mobile device. Also interesting was your review of the Facebook iPhone app. Hopefully with mobile on top of Facebook’s agenda, we will soon see some improvements to the user experience. Outside of the realm of apps lie billons of non-smartphone users with no access to social networking apps on their mobiles. My company, Cherple, leverages SMS messaging (texting) to deliver social networking services to the 80% of the mobile market that does not have a smartphone. By using SMS as the driving platform, we can reach the more than 5 billion mobile phones in the world, on a familiar UI, without having a single user download an application. This is appealing to both “dumb phone” users as well as advertisers, as we can offer in-text ads, which ensure views, unlike the haphazard banners you see on Facebook. Thanks for the great read, I look forward to seeing SMS continue to grow as the next big social communication tool.

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