Facebook is finally getting its act together and come clean with an optimized app for the iPad. Although many people believed it would be introduced last week at the iPhone 4S event, it's being confirmed and published to the iTunes App Store today.
So what caused the delay? The New York Times reports that Facebook and Apple clashed last year over integration with Ping, Apple’s social network about music, which really hasn't achieved the level of popularity that Apple likely expected. Facebook’s chief technology officer Brett Taylor also told the NYT more simply that the app wasn't ready yet.
While both of those answers are likely contributing reasons, something larger could be at play here: the whole HTML5 vs. app debate.
The pros for HTML5 include being able to design a single application interface that is supported by most devices regardless of size or operating system, as well as avoiding Apple's in-app purchasing requirements. Apple's known to be incredibly strict when it comes to streamlining payments through iTunes along with claiming a large chunk of the proceeds.
However, there are few things that one could actually buy -- at this point in time -- via Facebook. There are probably even fewer things worth buying, so the in-app purchases might not be a huge problem for Facebook at the moment, depending where the social networking giant goes from here.
Additionally, the number of people using tablets to access social media is rapidly climbing. Facebook has over 800 million members and counting at this point, and roughly 350 million of them are mobile users. Certainly, most of that segment are likely using featurephones and smartphones to access Facebook, but it only makes perfect sense that Facebook would develop an app specifically for the best selling tablet in the world, the iPad.
The smartest route for Facebook to take on this argument could be simply answer the call for both methods and continue to develop for HTML5 as well.
But for now, Facebook can't wait any longer to put out an iPad app. If there is one tablet that anyone should develop for at the moment, go where the money is -- which is with Apple's tablet for now.