iPad users have been demanding a custom Facebook application for months, however Facebook doesn’t appear to feel any pressure to launch one anytime soon for a number of reasons.
Most of the coverage so far has centered around Mark Zuckerberg’s response that the iPad is “not a mobile device” response to a question at Facebook’s mobile press event on Wednesday. After the event we had the chance to speak with Facebook’s CTO, Bret Taylor, who told us that one of the primary reasons that the application hasn’t been launched yet is that there are so many mobile devices and the site is perfectly functional as it exists within Safari on the iPad.
Initially I just accepted Taylor’s response as though it was an accurate analysis, however after letting it soak in, it’s pretty clear that such an excuse is pretty weak. Facebook.com is developed for computers that leverage a mouse, not touch devices. If Facebook.com was accessed primarily by touch devices I could just about guarantee that the site would not be designed the way that it currently is. Ultimately we aren’t capable of pointing out the exact reason that the company hasn’t launched an iPad application, however we can pretty much guarantee that “Facebook.com being good enough on the iPad” is not a reasonable excuse.
Facebook reaches close to 600 million users now. They didn’t get there by leaving out devices. As Mark Zuckerberg emphasized in a slide which was intended to reject claims that the company is working on their own mobile device, Facebook has taken a horizontal approach to mobile devices.
If they’re taking this approach, why not make a basic iPad app? I realize that the company doesn’t have unlimited developers, something that Bret Taylor emphasized during our discussion, however there’s clearly a demand and right now the only people satisfying that demand are fake Facebook iPad applications. Honestly, I actually understand where Facebook is coming from: the iPad sucks (I want to trade mine in for a MacBook Air since it has a keyboard). There are millions of people with an iPad though and right now Facebook.com is not optimized for a touch experience. It’s as simple as that.
Do you think Facebook needs to develop an iPad application?