This post is part of the weekly ‘Mobile Monday‘ series on news, ideas, and strategies in the world of mobile devices.
For a while now, mobile has been Facebook’s biggest weakness. More than half of all active Facebook users access the social network from mobile devices, but their experiences couldn’t be compared to the desktop Facebook experience. Many components of the mobile apps were poor, and Facebook hadn’t truly figured out how to monetize mobile. But last week, Facebook’s mobile muscles may have gotten a little stronger.
Facebook’s Instagram Acquisition Cleared
First, the Federal Trade Commission finally cleared Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram on August 22. Facebook announced its plans to acquire Instagram back in April, at which time the FTC opened an antitrust investigation regarding the acquisition. As Facebook continues to try to monetize mobile, the big question of whether or not ads are coming to Instagram remains.
The hypothetical Instagram advertisements have the potential to be unlike most other mobile advertisements. Given the visual nature of the app, advertisements would need to be so as well to belong in the stream. Ads on Instagram have the potential to allow highly visual brands to showcase their products.
Picture an advertisement for a local bakery featuring a picture of a shelf full of delicious pastries with an appropriate Instagram filter and a caption describing the day’s specials. Such an advertisement wouldn’t scream “THIS IS AN AD!” but rather, would blend in to the stream, which probably has several other pictures of food. Instagram advertisements could possibly give visual brands with a presence on Instagram already the chance to promote their best photos.
Facebook’s New iOS App
Facebook’s mobile app for iOS devices had been criticized for its clunkiness – it was slow, it was unresponsive, and it frequently crashed. Part of the problem was that it relied on HTML5. But on Thursday, an update came to the Facebook iOS app that promised a better experience for mobile users.
The app is now written in iOS’s native codebase, Objective-C, which makes the app a lot faster. Because of this, you can now see real-time updates in your news feed, and you can see how many new stories you have and tap the alert to view them. Likes, comments, and notifications are also easier to view now. Overall, the app is much more responsive, and responds quickly and seamlessly.
Facebook’s secondary apps have also been integrated into the core Facebook iOS app. These secondary apps are the Facebook Messenger app and the Facebook Camera app. Both apps were seen as peculiar at their introductions; why not just bring them into the core app? Messages looked completely different in the Facebook iOS app and the Facebook Messenger app, and photos were a similar situation. Fortunately, the code for both of these apps have been brought into the main Facebook app. Lastly, Facebook Timeline has finally come to the iPad.
This improved app is the first step in Facebook’s goal to becoming a “mobile first” company and effectively monetizing the mobile experience. While no changes were made specifically in terms of mobile revenue, no such changes would have been effective without first improving the mobile experience. The improved Facebook app will surely have more iOS users spending more time in the app (using it, not waiting for it to respond).
What else do you think Facebook needs to do to fix its mobile problems?