For now, Facebook’s new Graph Search feature is a PC-only product. The absence of a mobile version of Graph Search didn’t go unnoticed.
At the launch event, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked if Graph Search would be available for Facebook mobile.
“We’d love to,” he answered. “We have years and years of work ahead of us.”
It’s remarkable that Facebook would be so casual about when and how a major new product will tie in to its mobile strategy.
Facebook had 604 million consumers accessing Facebook on mobile as of September 30, 2012. The social network added mobile MAUs or monthly active users at the rate of 670,000 a day in the third quarter of last year, the fastest mobile growth rate the company has seen to date.
Not to mention, 39 per cent of these new users were mobile-only. In all, Facebook now has 126 million mobile-only users. Will they even learn of Graph Search’s existence?
(Additionally, Graph Search won’t initially be available in languages other than English.)
Graph Search is a social search product built to discover the likes and preferences of friends. Wouldn’t friends’ opinions on a brand or a film be especially valuable while making decisions on-the-go, at the movie theatre, or shopping mall?
Facebook has had impressive success with its mobile ads, fueling a spurt of advertiser and investor enthusiasm for the platform, but it has been PC-centric in other ways.
Take Facebook’s famous decision to develop for mobile in HTML5.
In September last year, Zuckerberg said it was Facebook’s biggest mistake. Zuckerberg explained the decision was driven by a desire to leverage a wealth of Web code written for the PC-based Internet: “We had wanted to take the … Web code on the Web stack that we had, and … translate that into mobile development.”
But the results weren’t liked by mobile users, and Facebook had to essentially start all over again with a focus on built-from-scratch iOS and Android apps.
Facebook’s reversal isn’t so much an indictment of HTML5, as it is an example of major Internet properties trying to force PC-era approaches into the mobile space.
That’s not likely to work any better than trying to force old print and broadcast media formats into digital. The debate isn’t really about mobile-only or mobile-first strategies, it’s about whether any digital product launch aspiring to mass adoption can afford to leave out millions of mobile users.
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