On October 10th, one of the longest running tech rumors in recent memory finally came to fruition: Facebook released its own, official iPad application. The app had been in high demand since the day the iPad first launched (Facebook’s iPhone app is, after all, among the platform’s most popular of all time). But there was no iPad app available on launch day. Nor was there one the day the iPad 2 came out. But that didn’t stop people from heading to the app store and typing ‘Facebook’.
In the mean time, some enterprising entrepreneurs took the opportunity to launch their own, unofficial Facebook iPad apps — which millions of people wound up downloading. One of these is MyPad (formerly called FacePad), which has seen strong growth since it first launched in January, offering access to Facebook features like Photos, News Feed, and Chat — with an interface that’s slicker than the web version of the site. The app has steadily improved since then, and recently introduced its iPhone application.
Perhaps more important: despite the launch of the official Facebook app earlier this month, MyPad usage is still at an all-time high, and growing.
Cole Ratias, one of the founders of Loytr, the company that makes MyPad, says that the app has seen 25% growth since Facebook launched the official iPad application, and that it’s currently the 15th most popular app on Facebook platform. The app now has 2.5 million daily active users (up from around 2.1 million a month ago) — and 65% of them are using the app on a regular basis. Ratias says that is 10-15% higher than the repeat visitors Facebook itself sees in its app, based on AppData.
Ratias acknowledges that there was a dip once the official Facebook app launched, and the number of new downloads has taken a hit as well, in large part due to Facebook’s official app ranking higher in search results and Apple’s ‘top apps’ listings. But the engagement numbers show that plenty of people are sticking with what they already have, and Ratias says that a lot of new users actually tried out the official app and wanted something different, then turned to MyPad.
That said, for Loytr to retain that audience and to keep growing in the longer term, it’s going to have to find ways to differentiate itself from the official app. But it knows that full well.
Last night the company rolled out a new version of the iPad app (the 99 cent version is already live, while the free version is pending Apple’s approval).With the new update, Loytr continues to integrate new features that Facebook doesn’t offer — in addition to Twitter integration, it now features a trending apps section, which showcases other applications users have installed to their devices. And the company just did a deal with Hype Machine to integrate free music as well.