Last week’s announcement from Facebook about the new ability for app developers to integrate a hidden, built-in “like” button in their mobile applications seemed to fly under the radar. Not that it wasn’t duly covered by tech press: it was. But the deeper implications seemed to have been summed up under the banner of “this is great news for app developers”-type sentiment. It is, of course. App developers who can smartly leverage Facebook integration can achieve impressive growth, even if it’s a bit manufactured at times. But more importantly, the move is great for Facebook. It has managed to introduce a toolkit that allows developers to weave Facebook’s data collection capabilities deep into the fabric of the future Internet – that is, the world of mobile apps.
First, some background. Smartphone adoption is growing at an incredible rate. Over half of the U.S.’s mobile population now owns a smartphone. Worldwide, the potential addressable markets are huge: China has 122 million users who could afford an iPhone or Android. The U.S. has 91 million, India 75 million, Japan 65 million and Brazil 34 million.