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This article was published on June 13, 2011

Why Facebook needs to up its game in mobile innovation

Why Facebook needs to up its game in mobile innovation
Niall Harbison
Story by

Niall Harbison

Niall is a social media advocate and co-founder of digital marketing agency Simply Zesty. He helps small brands get their message out to the Niall is a social media advocate and co-founder of digital marketing agency Simply Zesty. He helps small brands get their message out to the world and engage with their customers using the free tools available to them.

The last couple of years have been pretty plain sailing for Facebook as the company continues its world domination. The company has executed brilliantly with great innovations such as the “Like” button and has been ahead of the game with new features and updates while embraced by the media, brands and small advertisers.

For the first time Facebook has an issue on its hands though and it’s something that it’s going to have to move on pretty fast because it’s not a space you can afford to be slow in…Mobile. The competition is closing in from all sides with Google and Apple.Facebook is going to have to be very nimble to get its positioning right because having a simple app in the future is not going to be enough. Here is where Facebook is under pressure…

Outdated Apps

When it first came out Facebook’s app on the iPhone was brilliant but it has barely been updated in over a year and it needs a complete overhaul. First of all, it’s not very easy to use. It shows how quickly the playing field can shift and rather than small updates it feels like Facebook could do with a complete overhual of its app. It is especially poor for brands and businesses who manage Facebook pages and the app is extremely limiting. Facebook has nearly 300 million mobile users so providing them with a better user experience will be essential.


Make no mistake that Google and Facebook are in the middle of a war at the moment over who will control the advertising dollars in the next few years but if there is one area where Google is making great strides it is through Android, its mobile operating system. There is nothing inherently social about it yet but Google certainly sees the value in the space and is slowly rolling out a social layer across all of its platforms. It is starting with things like the +1 buttonlocal dealspayment services and the key with all of this is that Google will have an operating system that is in billions of people’s hands so if and when it does figure out social media you can be sure that will be baked in to the operating system. Facebook on the other hand is going to have a much harder time getting into bed (despite it being an open platform) with Android given the Google connection.

Apple + Twitter

It was a surprise to most last week when Apple started adding some social layers to it s operating system but it only went with Twitter, not Facebook. Twitter is going to be having a very deep integration with iOS5, which will not only allow users to do things like share photos to Twitter instantly but also sign in to apps and services with their Twitter account. To a large extent Facebook has become our online identity with its connect product allowing us to sign into websites etc., but if people all start using Twitter as their default online identity across all of Apple’s devices that is a very major problem for Facebook. They are just not at the races there.

Facebook’s Response?

So far it’s been pretty quiet. There have long been rumors of a Facebook phone and even a Facebook operating system for phones but with a couple of the team that were heading up these efforts leaving Facebook all might not be well behind the scenes. The one major signal that I would read into is the lack of a Facebook iPad app, which is telling. There are 25 million iPads out there but no sign of an iPad app. I am guessing that Facebook sees mobile as a much bigger priority, which is where all its resources are directed at the moment. If Facebook wants to become the company that it already is online then it needs to step things up quickly in the mobile world. Having an app is no longer good enough and Facebook needs to find a way of getting its services baked into every phone on the planet.

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