Mark Zuckerberg: Our Biggest Mistake Was Betting Too Much On HTML5

Today, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook’s mobile strategy relied too much on HTML5, rather than native applications.

Not only was this a big mistake with mobile, but Zuckerberg says that its biggest mistake period was the focus on HTML5. This is the first time that the Facebook CEO has openly admitted this, but things are looking good for the new iOS native app. According to Zuckerberg, people are consuming twice as many feed stories since the update to the new iOS app, which is great.

The first half year has been a little bit slow on product, but for the next six months I expect a lot of really cool stuff.

This “really cool stuff” will probably have monetization in mind, as it’s very clear that mobile is the path to ad revenue for the company.

It’s extremely difficult for a company to nose-dive into an adoption of a particular set of tools and then quickly change course. I suspect that this is exactly what happened with Facebook and things are at least looking up.

Last year, Facebook’s CTO at the time, Bret Taylor, discussed the future of mobile, which at the time very much included HTML5. Here’s a snippet from that piece, where Taylor discusses the platform:

Does that mean an evolution away from Flash? After all, Flash dominates the market for the types of HTML5 games that Facebook is talking about. “Well it’s hard,” Taylor said about Flash specifically. When I laughed and noted he was giving the diplomatic answer, he assured me that it is something they think about a lot. “We want to be ahead of the curve and fill in the gaps when possible,” is how he ended up putting it.

And this stance on HTML5 is vital for Facebook because Taylor really does see mobile as the future — but as it stands right now, that’s a bit of a problem. “The popularity of mobile devices will change,” he said implying that the dominant devices today might not be so dominant in the future. And if that’s the case, why should Facebook dump resources into them? Wouldn’t it be easier if they just focused on HTML5 — something which will work on an increasing number of devices going forward? Of course.

As Taylor noted, mobile devices have indeed changed dramatically, and a company like Apple is going to make sure that big companies are writing native apps to fully utilize the resources of the device.

Check out our full coverage of Mark Zuckerberg’s chat at Disrupt SF below.

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