Rabu, 02 Februari 2011

Facebook CTO: We’re Focused on Mobile in 2011

Facebook CTO Bret Taylor says that the company will be focusing on mobile in 2011, specifically when it comes to delivering a consistent user experience across mobile platforms.

At the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco today, Taylor revealed to Inside Network‘s Justin Smith that Facebook will be re-implementing many of its mobile websites and applications so they feel the same, no matter how they’re accessed.

At the moment, Facebook has a ton of different mobile platforms. Not only does it have applications for iPhone, Blackberry and Android, but it also has m.facebook.com (its feature phone site), touch.facebook.com (its touch-based site) and 0.Facebook.com, a lightweight website with no data fees, designed for countries where wireless access is expensive.

With so many different mobile platforms, it’s easy to see why Facebook users can feel overwhelmed when trying to access the site via mobile. Taylor says one of Facebook’s goals in 2011 is to standardize the look and feel of all of these applications and mobile websites. HTML5 will play a critical role in creating a consistent user experience, he said.

Taylor also discussed the health of Facebook Places, its geolocation and geosocial product. “We’re focused on rolling it out to as many people as possible,” Taylor said, adding that Places is, “going really well.” He also said that the company will have some interesting stats to release soon.

At the end of the fireside chat, Facebook’s CTO said that one of the most interesting things to watch this year will be the convergence of mobile and social. “My sense is that mobile devices are inherently social… [mobile devices are] already filled with your contacts and your friends, and they also have access to your location,” he said.

Facebook’s Focus In 2011

Today at the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco, Inside Network’s Justin Smith sat down for a discussion with Facebook CTO Bret Taylor. The two talked about a wide range of issues including the company’s 2010 (when they cut spam by 95 percent, Taylor said). But there was a particular focus on 2011 and the ecosystem. So what’s next for Facebook’s Platform?

Taylor made it very clear that mobile was the big area of focus for the Platform in 2011. But at a higher level Taylor talked a bit about “streamlining things” with regard to all the different ways Facebook is used.

“When we update something, there are about 7 different versions we have to update,” Taylor said. He rattled off a few: facebook.com, m.facebook.com, touch.facebook.com, the iPhone version, the Android version, etc. “It’s an incredible challenge,” he said. “And there’s feature-skew,” he continued.

Taylor noted that this same issue is a big problem for their third-party developers and partners as well. So how do they combat it? HTML5.

Taylor noted that while HTML5 has gotten a lot of hype in Silicon Valley, he does really believe that it’s the long-term answer. He said that Facebook is a bit ahead of the curve currently with over 125 million of their users accessing Facebook regularly from HTML5-compatible devices. “But we’re putting more in,” he said. “We’re getting to the point where it’s becoming a more mature platform,” he continued.

He noted that Facebook is going to release a lot of developer tools in the coming year so that third-parties can utilize HTML5 better as well.

When Smith asked if it was fair to say that Facebook would re-write or re-work things to make everything more standardized around technologies like HTML5, Taylor said, “At a high level, that’s the direction we’re going.”

Taylor credited both Apple and Google for doing great work in pushing HTML5 forward with their web browsers both on the desktop on on mobile. “It’s big for everyone in this room,” he said.

He did acknowledge that HTML5 was still a bit quirky when compared to native applications. “But the gap is closing,” Taylor concluded.

Facebook CTO Bret Taylor: “Mobile is the primary focus for our platform this year.”

If any consensus emerged around the state and health of the Facebook platform, it was that the future of it is clearly on mobile devices.

Facebook chief technology officer Bret Taylor said today that his primary focus in 2011 will be building out the platform’s mobile presence. Top executives from the ‘Big 4′ developers — Zynga, Disney’s Playdom, Electronic Arts’ Playfish and Crowdstar — also said they’re moving their attention to mobile platform this year in a panel earlier today at our Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco.

While Facebook has permeated half of the top websites in the world and fueled the growth of multi-billion dollar gaming companies like Zynga, its platform lags behind in reaching even the very best-selling mobile applications.

Taylor said the company had tremendous engineering challenges in ensuring an even experience across its all of its web and mobile presences. He said every time the company rolls out new features, it has to add them to seven versions of the same product: Facebook.com, m.facebook.com (which is optimized for low-end phones), touch.facebook.com (for higher-end, touch-enabled phones), the iPhone app, the Android app, Blackberry and numerous custom integrations of Facebook on other mobile devices.

“It’s incredibly challenging,” he said. “You end up picking and choosing platforms even though your goal is to reach everyone.”

At the same time, phones are inherently social. They’re single-user devices that come filled with a person’s contacts and friends. Plus, their primary function is as a communications device, he said. On top of that, they have access to location.

So far, Facebook has been gradually building out a set of tools that mobile developers can use to populate their applications with people and their friends. Taylor said Flixster’s integration of single sign-on, a quick way for users to sign-up for apps and import their friends, drove a 300 percent increase in sign-ups.

One way Facebook will be tackling the problem is HTML5, which will make it easier for engineers to quickly iterate and release features to a broad set of users without having to go through an approval process.

“We’re still maybe a little ahead of that curve, but we’re making a huge amount of investment,” he said. “Most people in Silicon Valley view HTML5 as the future.”

At an earlier panel, executives from the very biggest social gaming companies also said they’re starting to invest more in mobile platforms. Crowdstar chief executive Peter Relan said one-third of the company’s production will be focused on mobile.

Playdom co-founder and Wild Needle chief executive Rick Thompson said that if he were a smaller, less capitalized developer today he would opt for mobile first.

“Long-term, I couldn’t be more bullish on Facebook,” he said. “But if you have lower budget and quicker need for success, go mobile.”

Kristian Segerstrale, the chief executive and co-founder of Playfish, said that Facebook’s platform had much to improve on with its capabilities for mobile developers.

“The Facebook mobile experience remains high-friction in terms of actual DAUs,” he said. “I think they have a place. But Facebook, the handset providers and service providers will get better at merging. I think consumers will choose the best social experience — and it would be surprising if it didn’t turn out like social on Facebook.”

Design by infinityskins.blogspot.com 2007-2008