When Facebook released its prospectus just a few weeks before the IPO of the decade (and probably the millennium thus far), the company made no secret it was having trouble capitalizing on the mobile platform. Though there were plenty of balls in the air, and a hefty collection of possible influences, many believe that Facebook’s struggle with mobile was a major factor in what ended up being a disappointing public debut. While mobile may be a sticking point for the social giant, it may also be the company’s ticket to long term success. And as the headlines keep rolling in, it is becoming more and more obvious that the folks at Facebook already have the wheels turning. Read More…
Wow, what an uneventful week. What’s that? A 900 million user, 85+ billion dollar company is doing what today? Okay fine we’ll talk about it. Facebook is going public folks so grab your popcorn and pull up a chair in front of the stock ticker. Today we’ll see if stock traders worldwide have bought into team Zuckerberg’s promise to continue their growth, or are turned away by Facebook’s admitted struggles to capitalize on the mobile platform. Either way, the move promises to be exciting, and is bound to have some major impacts on the mobile and global web landscape.
While Facebook may have stolen all the headlines this week, let’s not forget that there was plenty more going on in the world of mobile. As always we did our best to keep tabs on all the happenings, so why not take a break from sweating the stocks, and check out some of our favorite news from the past week.
- • Last week some of the most important minds in the mobile and web development game gathered in Amsterdam for one of our favorite mobile conferences, Mobilism. Earlier this week some of the amazing presentations from the conference began to hit the web, like this one from the great Lyza Danger Gardner (@lyzadanger)
- • This week we had a few developments in mobile from the food industry that were particularly interesting. We wrote about Boar’s Head’s misstep in mobile a few months back and this week they came out and amended their mistake. A few days later, our friends over at Mobile Marketer came to FiddleFly looking for some insight on the use of mobile in the campaigns of quick service restaurants. Take a look at the article about how Arby’s is doing just that.
- • Augmented reality might just be the next step in web, and this week the people at Wikitude took AR to the next level by introducing a feature that connects augmented reality directly to the mobile web. Using the smartphone’s built-in camera, now you can get real-time assistance by simply surveying your surroundings. Check it out here.
- • The Apple vs. Android battle continues and this week a report came from Info World that suggests there is a clear leader. The winner for now at least: Apple.
- • Alright, we know you want to see it. Awkward clapping and anti-climactic countdown aside, this is actually a REALLY big deal. Watch the opening ceremonies of Facebook’s IPO here.
- • BONUS: We came across this product called Electric Imp that is designed to connect every electric device in your house via the cloud. Pretty awesome stuff.
Okay everyone, that’s all from us for today. We hope you and your portfolios all have a great weekend, and of course, make sure to connect with us on Twitter @fiddlefly, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest for more updates and info about the mobile web.
“It’s free and always will be.”
Bold promises like the one above have become all but standard practice from the folks over at Facebook. In the short history of what is now the hands-down global social leader, the company has made a habit of following through on its lofty predictions. However with this week’s IPO looming and the recent admissions from within that the social giant is having trouble monetizing its mobile network, the question of whether or not Facebook will in fact always be free seems to be up in the air.
It is no secret that mobile is a primary initiative at Facebook. Moves like the purchase of Instagram (possibly Facebook’s biggest mobile photo sharing competitor), the introduction of the mobile test suite Ringmark, and the introduction of its very own app market, all emphasize that Mr. Zuckerberg and company know how important going mobile actually is. Just to drill the point home, this week Facebook’s wunderkind CEO came right out and told the world that not only is mobile a major initiative, it is the primary initiative for the social juggernaut.
Despite such a blatant public focus on mobile as the next generation of Facebook, there seems to be plenty of skepticism about Facebook’s ability to be successful in the mobile space. Numerous amendments to the prospectus the company issued coupled with a CEO that is always raising eyebrows for breaking the mold, have plenty of potential investors worried.
So are their fears founded? That remains to be seen, however there are plenty of red flags. For one, Facebook currently makes a huge chunk of its revenue from sponsored ads. These ads, while effective in the PC medium, do not translate well to mobile. Facebook mobile users are primarily interested in chatting or sharing things like photos and status updates. Interrupting these activities on the small screens of mobile devices can risk driving many users away. Facebook has grown into the behemoth it is today by keeping the social experience simple and direct. Naturally, disrupting the mobile experience is not ideal.
Aside from ads, the next most logical way to make consistent profit over time would be to break the company’s long-standing promise and simply charge users a fee. Obviously this is not likely to happen as long as Mark Zuckerberg is at the helm, unless a radical philosophical shift takes place.
While the company is perched to see a major influx in revenue in the short term thanks to this week’s IPO, how without ad revenue or subscription fees does Facebook actually stand to be profitable in the long run? The most likely answer here is that the company will do what it has always done; get creative.
Over the past few weeks Facebook has rolled out a seemingly daily stream of initiatives and programs aimed at building a solid future for the company. The aforementioned app market, for example, stands to unify the app experience across all devices and pad Facebook’s mobile revenue. The company has also just begun testing a program in which users can pay to promote posts by highlighting them in followers’ feeds. These small initiatives may not be cure-all solutions, however they may be the building blocks for long-term profit strategies for one of the world’s most influential companies.
The way we see it, the ball could roll a number of ways for Facebook’s future. Maybe Facebook’s tactics will work and the social king will become the mobile ruler as well. Perhaps mobile will prove to be the hurdle Facebook can’t quite clear and a flashy newcomer will emerge to take the throne. The company could even get antsy with Mark Zuckerberg’s eccentric ways and we could see an Apple-like coup to remove him from power.
The only thing we can be sure of now is that in order to stay afloat in this unified web world, Facebook will need to find a way to capitalize on mobile. For now, there is a golden apple the size of Jupiter hanging right outside of Facebook’s reach. All that’s left to do is take a bite.
“Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.”
With the first quarter of 2012 now just about in the books, it is tempting to take a minute and reflect on the events that have taken place so far this year. Unfortunately for us, trying to wrap our head around all the enormous leaps and near light-speed developments that have gotten us where we are today would likely make our heads literally explode and in turn probably put a damper on our productivity today. That’s why instead we’ll stick to what we always do, and keep our fond reminiscing to just the week past. Here are some of the stories we loved this week.
- If you haven’t seen Google’s Mobile Playbook that was released this week, drop everything (unless you’re reading this while holding a small child) and go read it now. Amazing information, awesome ideas, and really fantastic advice. Of course once you finish reading it, make sure to come back to your favorite mobile web blog (ahem) for more cool stuff.
- Venture Beat put out a nice little piece this week about Silicon Valley’s war for the mobile web. When big companies like Facebook, Google, and Yahoo battle for one market, does anybody win?
- Remember that article we wrote about Facebook and Microsoft both making billion dollar deals? Well Microsoft this week decided to turn around and sell a nice fat chunk of those patents they bought from AOL over to none other than The Facebook Team for $550 million. Looks like with their looming IPO on the horizon, Facebook is looking to fatten their reserves.
- Like Mark Zuckerberg finally taking off the hoodie, it seems Apple’s Tim Cook is finally starting to emerge from Steve Jobs’ shadow. It will be a tough road as more and more awesome stories continue to pour out about Mr. Jobs, like the tale of how he actually intended on becoming Willy Wonka for a day.
- Remember that guy you saw on the subway who was smelling his phone? Well, it turns out he might not actually be crazy.
That’s all for now everyone, time to put April in the books and coast on into May. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for new developments from us here t FiddleFly, as well as in the world of mobile. We’ll be doing the same so make sure to follow and find us on Twitter @fiddlefly , Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.