Facebook plans to reveal new ways for developers to grow and monetize their apps. Today it announced it will hold its F8 developer conference on April 30th in San Francisco. It will have been almost three years since Facebook’s last F8 when it unveiled Timeline and the Open Graph platform in 2011.
The audience at SF’s Design Concourse will include “More than 1,500 mobile and web developers from all over the world” according to a Facebook blog post. Those wishing to attend are told to sign up to be notified when tickets will become available.
Facebook outlined the agenda for the day, explaining that “This year, we’re going back to our roots and having a pure developer conference. F8 will open with a morning keynote, followed by four tracks that will cover getting started guides, technical best practices, infrastructure strategies, engineering deep dives, and advertising tips for making your app or game highly successful. We’ll also have sessions dedicated to exploring how developers can take advantage of open source technologies.”
Ilya Sukhar, CEO of mobile-backend-as-a-service Parse which Facebook acquired last year, laid out the plans for F8 at his SXSW Interactive Keynote. In a post on Facebook, he gave more information about exactly what Facebook will be sharing:
“…building a hit app and finding people who will love it is really hard. Turning that app into a money making venture is even harder. Helping developers solve these problem is why we’re doing an F8. Between the Facebook and Parse teams, we have a lot of new developer-focused products to show off. We’ll have a day full of technical content, engineers all over the place to help out, and a sweet party to close it out.”
The last F8 in September 2011 included comedian Andy Sandberg impersonating Mark Zuckerberg before the CEO gave a keynote speech. VP of product Chris Cox showed off the Timeline redesign for the profile, and former CTO Bret Taylor walked developers through the Open Graph Platform, which would allow their apps to auto-publish a user’s activity back to Facebook to drive growth. Goth-rock band Crystal Castles played the after-party.
This year, the focus is likely to be on how mobile developers can use Facebook to gain more traction with both free and paid promotion on Facebook, which can in turn help developers earn money. In 2011, Facebook’ launched an HTML5 app platform designed to be a mobile equivalent of its web canvas and competitor to the iOS and Android app stores, but it never got popular with developers.
The question for F8 is whether Facebook will take another shot at directly challenging Apple and Google’s platforms, or double-down on its current strategy of being a social layer riding on top of them that provides backend hosting, personal data, growth, and promotion opportunities.