Facebook plans to launch an “awesome” new feature next week, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, possibly part of a larger push to expand its mobile offerings.
A company spokesperson declined to give specifics, but many speculate the launch may be a Facebook iPad app. Others believe that the new offering may be a photo-sharing service similar to the popular Instagram app.
One distant possibility includes the company’s rumoured “Project Spartan,” a Web-based app designed to circumvent Apple’s strict control over its iOS apps, giving its 700 million members unfettered access to the social network on tablets and mobile devices.
Another possibility may be some kind of Skype or even Netflix integration, amid an announcement that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is joining Facebook’s board.
Facebook’s 40-person Seattle office, which had previously , developed a unified mobile site, rolled out in March.
The announcement comes as competition intensifies in the social networking sector. Rival Google on Wednesday re-entered the fray with its Google+ social site.
Google had tried to stake out a claim in social media with failed Buzz and Orkut efforts, but its renewed Google+ push is capturing more interest. The company temporarily blocked invitations due to high demand, citing a need to more carefully monitor the fledgling service.
Facebook, meanwhile, stated earlier this year that it would make a big move into mobile, and has steadily built momentum in this space with new mobile apps and acquisitions.
But as competitors ramp up their own efforts, Facebook must maintain its edge to retain its dominant position and hefty advertising revenues, especially now that it surpassed Google in online ad sales.
As the company grows beyond mere social media into a full-fledged platform for media and communications, Facebook’s “awesome” offering may be its latest stake in an increasingly competitive terrain, especially as its base of users becomes more mobile.