If you closely look at Facebook’s recent moves, you can make two simple observations — first, the company is increasingly driven by a desire to make money off its billion-odd users as fast as possible. And second, that the company is maniacally focused on mobile first and web later. That focus has allowed the company to post some handsome gains in its revenues (and profits) and “hockey stick” style growth in the mobile usage — there are now 101 million daily active users in the U.S. who connect to Facebook on their mobile phones and tablets.
That obsession with mobile is one of the reasons why the Facebook Platform is now increasingly mobile centric. It is the reason why Facebook bought mobile development platform, Parse and it is one of the main reasons why the company is spending considerable resources on improving the Facebook Login. The company today announced major updates to its Facebook Login system that allows you to use your Facebook information to log into mobile apps.
Facebook said that the Facebook Login is being used to sign into mobile apps on iOS (81 of the top 100 grossing apps in the US) and Android (62 of the top 100 grossing apps in the U.S.) It has been used 850 million times a month. As part of the update, mobile apps that use Facebook Login now ask you for separate permission to post back to Facebook. It gives you the option of not sharing anything back to Facebook all together.
The company is working on ways to increase the Facebook Login speeds and load faster. The new version loads about 31 percent faster than previous versions, Facebook claimed. The Facebook Login is a nice way for the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social giant to wedge its way between users, app developers and platform owners (Google and Apple.) It is doing a good jab of hijacking the developer-user relationship from flat-footed platform owners and collecting data that allows them to make more money by — theoretically — better targeting.
From its launch in
2008 2007 at the f8 conference, the Facebook Platform has gone through some transitions. In the early days Facebook Platform was misused (though within the permissible/ambiguous laws) by companies such as Zynga and Slide to turbocharge their growth. A few years later, Facebook tried to manage that growth by trying to cut down on spaminess and instead focusing on music, video and news apps. None of those efforts really added to the Facebook experience in a meaningful manner and only made the Facebook pages noisier. Since then, Facebook has been quietly taming the Platform.
Today, the efforts of Facebook Platform can be divided into three groups:
- The developer-focused group (which includes Parse)
- The monetization group, which focuses on mobile app installs and payments.
- The Open Graph group.
When I asked Avichal Garg (currently a product manager for Open Graph) if the platform was essentially all about mobile, he said that while web continues to be important for Facebook, almost anyone can see that the world is going to be increasingly mobile in five years. Garg is an ex-Googler who came to Facebook via the acquisition of Spool, a company he co-founded, in July 2012.
“The platform clearly has evolved and the spaminess has gone down and it is by design,” Garg said. He pointed out that as sharing within Facebook is growing, the demands on the “newsfeed” have increased but the “attention has remained the same.” So Facebook has tweaked its platform and newsfeed to meet those realities.
Of course, it also helps that the increased fidelity of the newsfeed makes it more useful on the tiny real estate on smartphones and allows the company to charge buckets load of money for app installs. Like I said, all things at Facebook these days are about mobile and making money — as they both make Wall Street very happy.
This is also in the consumer’s best interest: it seems like and might actually lead to better exposure in the long run. The reason I would say that is that there might end up being less posts into Facebook, which could improve the newsfeed in the long run.