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October 11, 2012

Facebook and the Future of Mobile

Turn on your Mac and take a look at the OS screen. Now, turn on your iPad and look at its screen. Notice many differences? If your computer and iPad are fairly new, you probably don’t. Apple’s Mac OS is gradually morphing to resemble its mobile operating system.

Why is this? More people use Apple’s mobile devices and are comfortable with that OS, so it’s a natural progression for the company to have its computers use the same system. The mobile system has to be simple, because people need to access functions with fewer steps using nothing but their thumbs. This streamlined, more intuitive operating system makes sense on the computer as well as on a mobile device. As a result, Apple is unifying all of its products under one very similar operating system.

Mobile Is the New Laptop

Do you remember when laptops first hit the scene? The ability to take your computer with you wherever you went was so novel, it didn’t matter that these early computers were heavy, clunky beasts. You had to have one.

Now, you can have the power of a computer in the palm of your hand. As more and more sites turn mobile-friendly, going completely mobile is actually quite doable. In fact, in 2010, up to 25 percent of Americans were mobile-only users, which meant they rarely, if ever, touched a computer to access the Internet. Many more use the Internet regularly on their phone or other mobile device. This is a huge market and a source of tremendous revenue for those who can develop mobile-friendly apps and websites. That is why Apple, for one, is focusing on making all of its products, including its OS, mobile-friendly.

Facebook Getting in on the Game Too

Facebook is another company that is paying attention to this mobile trend, and for good reason. Facebook lost quite a bit of money after going public, watching its share prices drop by half. Part of the reason for the loss of revenue is the number of people who are going mobile, and the lack of revenue provided to the site by these users.

Facebook’s most recent version of its mobile app makes it faster and easier for mobile users to access the social networking site. The social media giant is also making changes to its various social gaming platforms to make them as mobile-friendly as possible. The goal is to make the site and its features more mobile-friendly while introducing revenue generators such as subscription-based games or sponsored search results.

The Future of the Mobile Web

The mobile Web has streamlined much of the Internet and has made Internet-based advertising opportunities more difficult. That tiny screen simply doesn’t have room for much advertising. Also, Smartphone owners don’t like obtrusive ads and will quickly click away from sites that have them. Finally, people are spending more time on apps than simply browsing the Web. The future of mobile revenue will have to be built into apps.

As a result, app developers are looking for ways to make their products profitable, without
sacrificing what people love about the mobile Web. The result is features like sponsored search results, in-app upgrade options and click-to-call ads.

As Apple and Facebook continue to work on making the World Wide Web as mobile-friendly as possible, other sites also are catching on. These mobile advertising platforms are still in their infancy but, like all babies, they will develop with time. The developers who get in on the ground floor are poising themselves for success.

Joseph Baker has worked in the business world for more than 10 years, specifically in management. He has led development and management teams, and implemented budget reductions both professionally and as an independent contractor. He is also an avid blogger and inbound marketer, with published topics ranging from social media trends to search media metrics and algorithmic trends.