Facebook’s Mobile HTML Dilemma{1}


by Jongwoo Y
With the new wave of mobile HTML5 applications coming through, Facebook is displeased with the rate Google and Apple have added HTML5 compatibility to their mobile browsers. Facebook recently announced that their HTML5 website has twice as many users than their Android or iOS counterparts (Constine, 2012). The problem with the applications that iOS and Android is that users are not able to use many of the basic Facebook features (photo uploads and high-performance HTML5 animations) that HTML5 users are able to enjoy. Faced with this problem, Facebook decided to create the W3C community group, a group dedicated to mobile device/application advancement, however, Apple and Google, the two big companies that control the mobile operating system market, have refused to join. This has become a huge problem as Facebook had over 105 million users on iOS and 100 million android users. Facebook is trying their best to convince these two companies to advance their browser’s HTML5 compatibility because the ads that they will be able to run under HTML5 compatible websites will be able to garner more revenue than the ones that are currently being used on the applications themselves. The W3C community group will become a huge factor in Facebook’s future probability; due to the fact that Facebook will soon be a public company and that Facebook’s ad revenues will be able to gain a significant lift which will make the company even more desirable (Constine, 2012). Though companies such as Mozilla and Opera have joined the group, iOS and Android are the companies that Facebook desire to attain. On the developer side, if HTML5 were to gain more compatibility with Android and iOS, developers would be able to port their applications to either of those two platforms with greater ease. This will be able to make more applications readily available to the general public and give developers more time to improve their current apps rather than investing time into porting them.

Facebook’s attempt to persuade both Apple and Google to improve their operating systems and browsers is a great help to the general community, even if it is for a mostly selfish reason. As Facebook attempts to improve their revenues, they are effectively giving both developers and the general public higher quality applications that will much more efficient and have more features. However, with Google and Apple both working on different aspects of their own operating systems, it seems as if Facebook’s plea will go unheard. Google and Apple both know that they are the major deciders to the HTML5 integration and that they have the final say. Google and Apple will both refuse to upgrade until the other side does, or if they are forced to due to major public outcry. The W3C community will be a major player in the future upgrades, and hopefully be able to achieve it’s goal.

I believe that the dilemma that Facebook is facing will be nearly impossible to get by. The reason that Apple and Google refuse to upgrade their OS’s, iOS and Android, is quite simple; they want users to use the apps that are provided in the market. This is due to the fact that they will be able to charge higher fees on ad revenues and have users constantly checking their app markets. If Facebook users were able to use a better version of their mobile applications on their mobile browser, the applications would become insignificant and Google and Apple will be forced to earn lower ad revenues from Facebook. It is very smart for both Apple and Google to not dive further into mobile HTML5 development on their browsers for this reason. The obstacle that Facebook is dealt will not be easy to get over and I do not see them gaining any ground in the foreseeable future.

 

Constine, J. (2012, April 20). Tech crunch. Retrieved from http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/20/facebook-google-apple-html5/