Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday used his first public appearance since the company’s disappointing IPO in May to admit it made mistakes in its mobile app strategy but insisted the social networking giant is now on track to become “a mobile company.”
Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Zuckerberg said he believes investors still "underestimate how fundamentally good mobile is for us," but he acknowledged that he and the company bet wrong two years ago by building mobile apps that can run on many types of devices using HTML5 technology, instead of writing code for specific operating systems. "That is one of the biggest mistakes, if not the biggest, strategic mistake we've made, but we're coming out of it now," Zuckerberg said.
Last month Facebook announced an updated app for iPhone and iPad, adopting a native implementation rather than HTML5 in order to improve its performance following widespread criticism that its apps were slow and prone to bugs. Facebook is also working on revamped apps for phones using Android software.
According to Zuckerberg, people are consuming twice as many feed stories since the update to the new iOS app.
Meanwhile Zuckerberg reiterated belief that the company will make more money via mobile than desktop in future, although the CEO didn’t offer any specific insight into how Facebook will maximise revenue from mobile ads. Zuckerberg hinted that the company was halfway through a cycle to "retool" and offer new advertising products. He also said he believed search could be a ripe area of growth for Facebook and was working to offer a competitive, full-feature search product – a move that will likely grab the attention of rival Google.
Zuckerberg also scotched any notion of Facebook building its own smartphone. "It's so clearly the wrong strategy for us," he said. "If we got 10 million people to use it, 20 million people, it doesn't move the needle for us. We want to build a system which is as deeply as possible integrated into every major device that people want to use."
Reports state that Zuckerberg looked confident while addressing Facebook’s challenges. His comments helped drive Facebook shares up more than 3 percent after hours to above US$20, building on a 3.3 percent gain in regular trade on Tuesday. The stock is still well off its US$38 debut price, and Zuckerberg admitted that the drop in the firm’s value since May has been“disappointing.”