Believe it or not, it’s been three years since Facebook last held its developers’ conference, F8. That was a flashy event with an introduction from Andy Samberg and the unveiling of two major consumer products, Timeline and Open Graph. But, Wednesday’s F8 in San Francisco will likely be a more toned-down affair.
Here’s a look at what to expect during the event, including rumors about what the company will show during the keynote:
Not much for consumers
Don’t expect a Timeline or an Open Graph at this year’s F8 — there won’t be a lot for consumers to get excited abou this time around. Facebook will likely focus on developer tools and technologies instead.
The decision to shift back to a more developer and platform-focused F8 was likely spurred by Facebook’s acquisition of Parse in 2013. A representative for Facebook told me that Parse has become the main provider of back-end services for Facebook’s apps, leaving room for developers to focus on things like user experience and monetization. With a host of new tools available, it’s likely that this F8 will play some catch-up and inform developers exactly how they can work with the platform.
Parse inspires the first of three “core tenants” of F8 that inspire seminar tracks: “Build.” So, expect a big focus on helping developers build the apps that Facebook wants on its platform.
Focus on mobile and cross-platform
This year’s F8 won’t have much to do with the desktop version of the platform: nearly every panel at the event this year focuses on mobile or cross-platform devices, so it’s likely that mobile will be the focus of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s morning keynote. In addition to teaching developers how to build for mobile and cross-platform, the second tenant the company will preach is “Grow.”
GrowTH is an interesting challenge for Facebook — a representative told me that F8 will focus particularly on helping developers make their apps discoverable. This means a more thoughtful integration of social media strategy into its platform: Facebook, a great place for sharing, will likely work harder to help its users uncover products made by developers.
Part of growth is also accessibility. Facebook will show two important facets of its own accessibility: open source, which it will show off with a special fourth track at F8 called “Hackers’ Way,” and mobile-first penetration, which it will discuss in a demo area produced in partnership with Facebook’s Innovation Lab and Internet.org. Both of these mobile initiatives are big focuses for Facebook’s future, and will offer a good glimpse into how Facebook sees its own projects.
Better mobile advertising
The final core tenant of F8 is a big one: “Monetize.” The ability to monetize, especially on mobile, is a big part of Facebook’s roadmap in the coming years. During the earnings call last week, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg talked excitedly about how the company’s new mobile ad offerings were bringing greater promise for both the company and developers to generate revenue on the platform. In that vein, there will be plenty of talk about money.
Rumors have been swirling that the crown jewel of F8 will be the introduction of the company’s mobile ad network. Right now, a seminar in the “Monetize” track is suspiciously without a description — just listed with the words “To Be Announced (You Don’t Want To Miss It!)”. If the mobile ad network is the big piece to F8’s vision, then it’s likely that there will be plenty of developer-friendly options to help grow apps designed for Facebook with mobile ads.To Be Announced (You Won’t Want to Miss It!)o Be Announced (You Won’t Want to Miss It!)