It’s not that Facebook’s F8 conference lacked for news: the company overhauled a key aspect of the Facebook experience in changing the profile page for the timeline, and revealed further plans to encourage people to use Facebook as a media-consumption platform. But it was a bit surprising that Facebook decided not to provide any updates on its mobile strategy given how important mobile devices are to Facebook usage.
CTO Bret Taylor did say that Facebook now has 350 million people using its service through mobile apps, but that was it. No Facebook iPad app, very few details on how the new redesigns will integrate with Facebook’s mobile apps, and no updates on what many expect will be a strong move toward HTML5 as the linchpin of Facebook’s mobile strategy.
With only a morning to highlight its work for the year and pitch thousands of developers on why they should continue to think of Facebook as a platform for their applications, the company clearly needs to focus on its bread-and-butter: the PC-based Facebook experience. But while Zuckerberg did demonstrate how the new timeline feature would look on a mobile device, he didn’t elaborate on whether or not we were seeing the mobile Web implementation of that experience or an app-based experience.
This is important because Facebook is believed to be working on HTML5 versions of its services that would allow it to bypass apps altogether in favor of the mobile Web, a development which could be a tipping point for the apps-versus-mobile-Web that we’re all getting a little sick of discussing. The lack of any significant mobile update at F8 gives credence to the notion that Facebook doesn’t see as much value in continuing to develop its traditional mobile strategy.
It’s not hard to imagine Facebook gearing up for a separate mobile-focused event sometime in the near feature. Executives and partners were tight-lipped after Zuckerberg’s morning keynote, but the lack of focus on something as vital to Facebook’s future as its mobile strategy likely means that something big is around the corner.