Considering the fact that there's roughly 425 million mobile users out of a total of 825 million Facebook users, it's no surprise that Facebook is making a push towards developing their mobile experience. Acting as a potential goldmine for revenue if they crack it, the company is putting measures in place to help make this become a reality.
To help develop this, Facebook's Director of Developer Relations Douglas Purdy has revealed that the company has introduced a number of changes and initiatives to help improve the overall mobile experience. Identifying three different areas of interest - app discovery, mobile browser fragmentation and payments - the site has created a new group called the W3C Mobile Web Platform Core Community Group.
Consisting of over 30 different device manufacturers, carriers, and developers, the group is set on improving the standard of mobile browsers and help developers understand the capabilities of mobile browsers and their app's potential reach. The Core Community Group consists of companies such as Samsung, Mozilla, Vodafone, Microsoft, Adobe, Netflix and Electronic Arts to name but a few.
Also, Facebook has released a new mobile test suite called Ringmark which will help developers figure out which mobile browsers support the functionality their app needs to work. Ringmark measures how well mobile browsers handle the qualities of each particular app and see what works and what doesn't.
The second initiative is mobile payment, with the company trying to minimize the number of steps required to complete a transaction on a mobile web app. Instead of having to go through carrier billing, developers will be able to tap into Facebook's payment system and quickly confirm purchases.
Partnering with operators such as Orange, T-Mobile USA, AT&T and Vodafone, nine different operators now allow Facebook's Pay Dialog to operate automatically into any app, making it easier for users to purchase apps via operator billing.
This ties in with Facebook trying to increase the level of ecommerce that goes through the site and develop a new revenue stream for the company.
Facebook software engineer Tobie Langel gives the reasons behind these changes saying:
"Facebook has worked closely with hundreds of developers building web-based mobile apps. We've also built m.facebook.com, and even have web views in our native apps to render features like News Feed and Timeline. Over the past couple of years, we've built up a lot of knowledge about mobile HTML5â€”including the realization that "build once, deploy everywhere" has significant caveats.
Broadly, these boil down to two major issues; performance and feature set. Poor canvas performance, for example, is inhibiting game developers from building on the mobile web. And limited feature sets prevent app developers from competing with native applications. Not being able, for example, to use camera functionality in an HTML5 app can result in a sub-optimal user experienceâ€”or sometimes no appropriate experience at all."
All of this is pushing towards making Facebook a more financially alluring place for both companies and app developers. Considering the success of Open Graph apps on Facebook, according to Facebook's CTO, Bret Taylor, the site drives roughly 60 million users to mobile apps, expect these areas to be key in the company's strategy for 2012.