I've said many times before that Facebook is prioritizing mobile very high, but only now has it become clear just how high. Erick Tseng, head of mobile products at Facebook, was at the GigaOm Mobilize conference, and while he repeated a lot off things we've already heard, he had one very interesting thing to say.
"We're going to become a mobile company," Tseng said according to CNET. Next year or the year after, Tseng believes Facebook will be as much of a mobile company as it is a Web company. How will it pull that off? I would guess with its rumored HTML5 platform (see links below).
Tseng reiterated that Facebook has more than 350 million mobile users (out of 800 million users in total). When those numbers were released last week, I noted that the proportion of mobile users (now at 43.75 percent) will soon be at 50 percent. Tseng thinks that will happen next year. He noted most of Facebook's users in India, Southeast Asia, and Africa, only access the website via mobile devices.
Tseng also repeated that "within Facebook, we barely consider ourselves a social network" and instead the social networking giant is a "platform company." In other words, Facebook believes it is simply the best solution for developers who want to add social elements to their apps, whether for mobile or for desktop.
As for the possibility of a Facebook phone, Tseng said the usual "we believe every phone should be social" and reminded the audience that Facebook is working with various phone companies like HTC and Sony Ericsson to "bake the platform into their apps layer." He said it's "the beginning of what we think of when we see the mobile/social platform. It's kind of a version one." As for the version two, "there will be a completely new experience which takes this idea of realtime and relevance to a new level altogether." Unsurprisingly, he didn't say when this "new paradigm" will be announced.
As for the official Facebook iPad app, he did not confirm its existence nor the rumor that it would launch at the iPhone 5 event next week. "The iPad's great," he said. "There's nothing to announce."