Facebook has revealed that more than 60 million monthly users engage with third-party apps via the social network's mobile website or via native apps that integrate with the service. Furthermore, Facebook users are doing so 320 million times per month, meaning each user on average is engaging with third-party Facebook apps roughly five times per month.
Facebook also acknowledged the company is indifferent when it comes to the value proposition of HTML5 versus native apps. "We don't really care whether developers build for mobile web or native apps," Facebook Director of Product Management Carl Sjogreen told Inside Facebook. In his view, the decision is not either-or: "The people you want to play with trump whatever the platform the app is on. If your fundamental gameplay revolves around interacting with friends, then being cross platform is really important."
Facebook thus supports both developers who want to develop native apps for Android and iOS that include advanced functionality and graphics but are more costly and difficult to maintain, as well as HTML5 mobile apps that are much more basic but can be accessed on more than one platform and are thus easier to keep updated.
That being said, Facebook emphasizes cross-platform compatibility as an increasingly important factor to consider since it wants to push its service to as many different platforms and devices as possible. In other words, Facebook wants it so that no matter what device you're using, you can access third-party Facebook apps when you get a notification or see a story popup in your News Feed or Ticker.
Facebook has over 425 million monthly mobile users as of last month. In other words, some 14.11 percent of Facebook's mobile users engage with third-party apps directly from the mobile platform. This percentage is likely even higher, but it's impossible to say by how much since we don't know how many Facebook users are accessing the service from feature phones versus smartphones, the latter of which can actually run third-party Facebook apps. Unfortunately, the social networking giant doesn't share such numbers.
Four months ago, Facebook announced it had extended the Facebook Platform to mobile, allowing developers to take advantage of social channels for app discovery as well as Facebook Credits. It started with just two mobile platforms: Apple iOS and the mobile version of its website. Two months ago, Facebook ported the Facebook Platform to Google's Android as well. The company still isn't saying what platform, if any, is next.
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