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.”

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

  1. Facebook focus on Mobile and what that means for Social App developers « Joe Cincotta: Thoughts and such… says:

    [...] in store for the Facebook platform. Inside Facebook have great in-depth coverage of the interview here The key takeaway from the interview is that “Mobile is the primary focus for [the Facebook] [...]

  2. Facebook Akan Mengutamakan Mudah-Alih Pada Tahun 2011 | Amanz says:

    [...] mengatakan yang mana mereka akan menumpukan perhatian utama kepada platform mudah-alih pada tahun 2011, dalam [...]

  3. 'Comprar entre amigos', la nueva función de Facebook | ReadWriteWeb España says:

    [...] las nuevas funcionalidades. “La mayoría de gente en Silicon Valley ve HTML 5 como el futuro”, recalcó Taylor. Más sobre: [...]

  4. Facebook’s Latest Acquisition Aimed at Improving Local Deals | 香港新媒體協會 says:

    [...] about Facebook’s challenges and success on the mobile platform in general. But these phones, explained Taylor, are inherently social. They’re filled with your friends and contacts. And they have access [...]

  5. Blog :: Facebook Friday for January 28th, 2011 » thisismyurl.com says:

    [...] phone (I love my iPhone) but 2011 is going to be the year of the mobile for Facebook according to CTO Bret Taylor. What does that mean for users? Take a look at PC Magazine's article Facebook Acquires Startup to [...]

  6. Mobile Roundup: Bubbli, StackMob, Movie Studio Deals and More says:

    [...] what device it would be for or whether it would be native. Taylor and others we’ve talked to inside the company say that Facebook is very focused on HTML-5. That’s probably not only because it makes it easier for engineers to add updates. Encouraging [...]

  7. Facebook Concentrating On Mobile Platform And HTML5 In 2011 | Socialtrakr says:

    [...] Social Apps conference in San Francisco, Bret Taylor, the chief technical officer of Facebook said that in 2011, the company will look forward to build new mobile platforms. Facebook does offer [...]

  8. Pasquale Borriello punto com » Blog Archive » Facepad: finalmente Facebook sull’iPad says:

    [...] sito insidefacebook.com apprendo che non arriverà presto un’applicazione Facebook ufficiale per iPad (parole di Bret [...]

  9. Tweet Roundup | 02/04/11 | Group 3 Solutions says:

    [...] According to Bret Taylor, CTO of Facebook, ‘mobile is the primary focus for our platform this year.’ Inside Facebook [...]

  10. Will the Facebook Beluga acquisition drive other acquisitions in the group messaging space? - Quora says:

    [...] the fact that: Bret Taylor has come out and said that mobile is the focus of the platform for 2011: http://www.insidefacebook.com/20…Beluga was not their first acquisition in the mobile + groups space: [...]

  11. It’s time to take Social Media and Online Communication serious. « thoughtsonsocialmedia says:

    [...] One of my favourite findings by Comscore is the fact that they recognise and acknowledge that Location Based Marketing applications like Foursquare are growing.  Of course this comes as no-surprise. According to Facebook, they are willing to use a big part of their new-found Goldman & Sachs investment, to invest in their Mobile Platform in 2011. And one of the most important features of this platform is Facebook Places (Story can be found here:) [...]

  12. Do I need a mobile site? | Mobile Enabled Websites, are they necessary? | Facts on Mobile and Websites | Search Engine People | Toronto says:

    [...] is Facebook's position on mobile? Facebook's CTO said "Mobile is the primary focus for our platform this year." (Don Campbell, Expand2Web.com [...]

  13. Ronald Reagan and the year(s) of mobile | toddmgreen.com says:

    [...] (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}Facebook declared 2011 their year of mobile. More importantly (for me), my girlfriend tells me that one of the big trends in marketing for 2012 [...]

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