Facebook's Focus In 2011: Better Cross-Platform Unification Led By HTML5

Today at the Inside Social Apps conference in San Francisco, Inside Network’s Justin Smith sat down for a discussion with Facebook CTO Bret Taylor. The two talked about a wide range of issues including the company’s 2010 (when they cut spam by 95 percent, Taylor said). But there was a particular focus on 2011 and the ecosystem. So what’s next for Facebook’s Platform?

Taylor made it very clear that mobile was the big area of focus for the Platform in 2011. But at a higher level Taylor talked a bit about “streamlining things” with regard to all the different ways Facebook is used.

When we update something, there are about 7 different versions we have to update,” Taylor said. He rattled off a few: facebook.com, m.facebook.com, touch.facebook.com, the iPhone version, the Android version, etc. “It’s an incredible challenge,” he said. “And there’s feature-skew,” he continued.

Taylor noted that this same issue is a big problem for their third-party developers and partners as well. So how do they combat it? HTML5.

Taylor noted that while HTML5 has gotten a lot of hype in Silicon Valley, he does really believe that it’s the long-term answer. He said that Facebook is a bit ahead of the curve currently with over 125 million of their users accessing Facebook regularly from HTML5-compatible devices. “But we’re putting more in,” he said. “We’re getting to the point where it’s becoming a more mature platform,” he continued.

He noted that Facebook is going to release a lot of developer tools in the coming year so that third-parties can utilize HTML5 better as well.

When Smith asked if it was fair to say that Facebook would re-write or re-work things to make everything more standardized around technologies like HTML5, Taylor said, “At a high level, that’s the direction we’re going.”

Taylor credited both Apple and Google for doing great work in pushing HTML5 forward with their web browsers both on the desktop on on mobile. “It’s big for everyone in this room,” he said.

He did acknowledge that HTML5 was still a bit quirky when compared to native applications. “But the gap is closing,” Taylor concluded.