opinion

Facebook Says ‘No’ To HTML5

Stephen Yagielowicz

Recently surpassing a billion users, the planet’s most popular social network, Facebook, might be expected to ride upon the cutting edge of technology; but a recent admission by the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, reveals otherwise — especially when it comes to its mobile offerings.

“We’ve had a bunch of missteps on [our mobile app strategy],” Zuckerberg told TechCrunch Disrupt conference attendees, in response to a question posed by moderator Michael Arrington. “The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5 instead of native [apps],” Zuckerberg stated, adding, "We burnt two years [in the process].”

We want to build a system which is as deeply as possible integrated into every major device people want to use. -Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

Learning from its past mistakes, Facebook will also go native for its Android application as well.

“We’re betting completely on [native apps],” Zuckerberg stated. “Native is going to be the approach that we go with for iOS and Android.”

The process, aided by the recent reapplication of the company’s existing iOS infrastructure to its new Android offering, “will be ready when it’s ready,” he says.

Part of the development cycle involves gaining a better understanding of the mechanics of today’s marketplace, where, for example, the mobile user experience can be seen as being closer to television than it is to traditional website access — in part due to the lack of sidebars and other established zones for effective advertising placement.

While some observers have long predicted the release of a Facebookbranded Smartphone, not unlike competitor Google’s phone initiative, Zuckerberg says such an offering would not result in any significant increase in the social network’s user base — perhaps luring a paltry 10 million buyers, which “doesn’t move the needle for us,” given the company’s billion user roster.

Despite his revelation that more employees will be dedicated to mobile development, Zuckerberg notes that a focus on a Facebook phone would hamper the brand’s desire for ubiquity of access across all platforms.

“We want to build a system which is as deeply as possible integrated into every major device people want to use,” Zuckerberg stated, pointing the way to Facebook’s future. Of course, Facebook’s future may now be up to its shareholders, which have endured a free-fall in the stock price since the company’s IPO.

“The performance of the stock has obviously been disappointing,” Zuckerberg concluded, opining that for investors, it is “a good time for people to stay and double-down.”

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