Facebook hasn’t had a major, announcement-filled developer conference since September 2011’s f8, and it won’t for the forseeable future. The Mobile DevCons it just announced won’t have huge news, I hear, but will let developers meet Facebook staff and partners in New York, London and Seoul at one-day gatherings this spring.
Mobile DevCon will take place in New York on April 18th, London on May 2nd, Seoul on May 7th; pre-registration for the free events is open at those links. DevCon’s goal is to help developers better understand its platform so they feel confident investing resources into building apps connected to Facebook.
Chatter from the company indicates there may be discussion of some more minor developer-focused updates, but nothing like the launch of Timeline and the Open Graph platform we saw at f8. The changes relayed at the events could be a big deal to developers, including modifications to virality and the data they can access. But the general public probably won’t have a ton to drool over.
The DevCons seem more akin to Facebook’s previous Developer Garage events than, say, Apple’s WWDC, where lots of new products are announced. The fact that there are three events over several weeks instead of one underlines that this is about building relationships with developers rather than wowing the world.
Facebook says the agenda of the Mobile DevCons will include:
- how to implement our iOS, Android and JS SDKs to drive installs and engagement
- how to best implement Facebook Login to bring trusted, cross-platform identity to your apps
- best practices for using Open Graph to share rich and engaging stories back to Facebook
- how to use Facebook to power engaging social, mobile games
- design tips and product best practices to increase user satisfaction
- the tools, libraries and techniques we at Facebook use to build our own iOS, Android and Mobile Web apps
- You’ll also get to meet like-minded mobile developers and hear first-hand from companies like Fab.com, GetGlue, Zeebox and EyeEm about their experiences building for mobile.
The speaker lineups don’t include any of the heavyweights like Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Chris Cox, Boz, or Sam Lessin that Facebook usually trots out for big events. Doug Purdy, director of product for Facebook’s platform, is the biggest name on the list, and he’s only at the NYC DevCon.
Just because there won’t be a slew of huge product launches or execs onstage doesn’t mean these events aren’t important. On the surface, Facebook wants to redefine itself as a mobile-first company, and this posturing should help. Seriously, though, Facebook needs loyalty from third-party app developers now more than ever. Facebook just opened additional news feeds with its recent redesign, and has to find content to fill them.
If anything, it could use the conferences to dispel the common misconception that it’s trying to compete with iOS and Android. In reality, Facebook wants to be the social layer that ties friends together across all apps on all platforms and all devices. Mobile game payments aren’t Facebook’s cash cow. Ads are. If it can get more apps connected and actively sharing to the social network, it gains content to show ads next to and data to target them with.
Above all, though, Facebook wants to guide developers into building great social apps for mobile so people gain the value of their graph on the go.