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Summary:

Mark Zuckeberg declared Tuesday that Facebook’s biggest mistake was focusing too intensively on HTML5 over native apps, but developers said Thursday that the technology isn’t even close to being over at the company, and allows them to scale and reach an increasingly large user base.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg might have made headlines Tuesday calling the company’s focus on HTML5 the “biggest mistake we made,” but on Thursday, Facebook developers were clear: HTML5 isn’t even close to being dead. In fact, it’s playing a huge part in getting Facebook where it wants to go.

In his first public post-IPO appearance on Thursday at San Francisco’s TechCrunch Disrupt, Zuckerberg called the company’s early decision to focus the bulk of its efforts on HTML5 over iOS a mistake for the company. Facebook’s iOS app was notoriously slow and difficult to use, and August’s iOS update was heralded as a much-needed makeover to the popular app.

As Zuckerberg noted Tuesday, users are now consuming twice as much information from the newsfeed after the update, and Facebook officials said the app’s popularity has almost doubled in the App Store, going from about 2 stars to 4 stars since the update.

But at a round-table discussion for journalists at Facebook headquarters Thursday, the company’s developers emphasized that HTML5 and the technology behind the mobile web version of Facebook isn’t going away — in fact, it’s playing a huge role in keeping Facebook in people’s lives around the world.

“We focused on scale and we got to scale,” said product manager Mick Johnson, pointing out that users access the site from more than 7,000 different types of mobile devices, and that using HTML5 allowed Facebook to push out updates to the site more quickly over time. He said the mobile web is still an incredibly valuable platform, and Zuckerberg’s comments do not “in any way shape or form, change that.”

And with Zuckerberg wanting Facebook to reach “everyone in the world,” the company said it’s not going to be native iOS apps or a speedy, HTML5 web app — it will have to be both.

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  1. Blaming HTML5 was stupid and reckless and disengenuous. The screwup was was the decision not to do a native app in the first place. This on is on YOU Mark.

  2. One thing that doesn’t seem to be pointed on any article is that Facebook gets most of its traffic from the mobile web, even more than from Android and iOS combined… I can’t find the source where I read it, though.

    1. Yep, I believe Zuckerberg mentioned that on Tuesday, but that’s true. Their mobile web version is really popular.

  3. makes sense. they tried to go all html5 and that didn’t work at their scale, so they went hybrid. smaller sites can still go all html5 and get away with it. only they could have done this experiment since no one else comes close to the scale they’re operating at.

  4. Sounds more like media apologizing for taking his quote out of context. He also noted that mobile web (which is HTML5) accounts for more traffic than all native apps.

  5. If you actually watch his interview or read a transcript, it’s not really negative on HTML5 at all, but the blogs and press made it out to be. He basically admitted that they got in too early and didn’t focus enough attention on it, so the app had issues. But of course the headlines were all “Facebook’s biggest mistake – HTML5″.

  6. The growth of mobile usage (the mobile shift) requires new focus on mobile experience.

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