Why is FaceBook late to the Windows 8 party?

October 9, 2012

Facebook. Windows 8, arguably one of the largest software paradigm shifts in history is happening and we haven’t heard a peep from FaceBook about a Windows 8 Metro/Modern UI application. Maybe it’s just me but that’s a little odd. But here’s the crazy part – for some reason, being late to platforms seems to be a trend with the social network. Let’s start with the iPad. They were ridiculously late to the party with an iPad application long after it was due. In fact, the official FaceBook app for the Apple iPad was released 18 months after the first version of the tablet was released. ZDNET summed up the delay this way:

Unfortunately, it turns out FaceBook didn’t start working on an iPad version of its iOS app right away. The reason was simple: such an undertaking would supposedly mean more Facebook engineers working on mobile apps than the actual service. “One of the challenges anyone has working on mobile experiences, is that there are a lot of different technologies and a lot of different platforms,” Ethan Beard, Director of Platform Partnerships at Facebook, told The Next Web. “I remember when the iPad came out, we started saying ‘let’s cook up a team to work on this,’ but then we took a step back. We had PC Web, mobile Web, a low-cost site for emerging markets, an Android App, iPhone app, and BlackBerry app. We would’ve had more people inside Facebook translating Facebook from the app that we’d built, into all those other platforms than we did have working on the core experience.”
The story doesn’t end there. In August of this year, FaceBook scrapped the IOS iPad apps that were built in HTML 5 and rebuilt them with IOS’s SDK. FaceBook for Android met a similar fate. With Android, they built an HTML 5 app that their CEO widely considered a mistake  and STILL haven’t fixed it. Word on the street is that a newer, better version of FaceBook for Android will be out any day now. Now here we are, about to move to a new version of Windows and… No native FaceBook application for Windows 8. No Metro App. No news of Microsoft collaborating with FaceBook. Nothing. IDC’s Al Hilwa has a take on the issue:
“I think Facebook is still in a mode where it has to marshal its resources carefully for all the opportunities in front of it. Likely it is an issue of prioritization, but given the Microsoft early investment in Facebook and the deep partnering they have had so far I also find it a bit surprising. One theory is that they are saving this announcement into a bunch of big bang announcements that will come at launch or at BUILD.”
He adds:
“Outside the iPad, Windows 8 is likely the single biggest category of big-screen touch devices out there in pretty short order, even if enterprises do not move and many do not upgrade. Such is the nature of the size of the PC platform relative to for example the more fragmented Android tablets.”
He’s more charitable than I am. I think it’s simply incompetence. I believe that regarding anything outside the core FaceBook site, it seems that the company simply is not able to walk and chew gum at the same time. I have been asked “why do you think it’s important for FaceBook to even have an application in Windows 8 anyway?. After all the company does have about ONE BILLION (non paying) customers”. My answer is simple. Windows 7 has sold over 700 million copies and Windows 8 has the potential to (over time) do similar numbers. Windows 8 will be a fully integrated platform on which millions of people will spend hours of their lives. Browsing, shopping, spending. FaceBook is now a publicly traded company with an obligation to investors. Their biggest problem has been convincing investors that they can make more money than they do today. The sooner Facebook is able to engage that audience via a Windows 8 Metro (or desktop) app, the sooner they (theoretically) have more options to hook into their users spending power. You would think they would have taken advantage of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 development tools to put out an AMAZING looking application. Now I’m no super programmer but I have to imagine that with a little bit of creativity, you could a lot of extra value to the FaceBook experience with a Windows 8 Metro application. Certainly more value than using FaceBook on Internet Explorer or Chrome. A Windows 8 metro app should (in theory) provide FaceBook with a little more functionality on the user’s device (with proper authorization). I believe that it’s EXACTLY that sort of creativity that FaceBook needs to be showing at this time. As an investor or shareholder, it would trouble me that the company hasn’t articulated plans to engage users directly through Windows 8. Microsoft have been developing this Operating System for years now, you would have to assume that FaceBook could have collaborated closely with Microsoft at any point in the process. It’s not a good indication of their focus that they aren’t able to rapidly develop applications for the world’s (potentially) largest mobile platforms. Or just maybe, it’s not a good indication of what Facebook think of Windows 8? [ They declined to comment.] Now having said this, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Microsoft and FaceBook are saving the super secret mega application announcement for later this month. Unfortunately, I believe that is unlikely and based on the social network’s track record, I strongly doubt it. It’s more likely that just like the iPad and just like the Adroid app, they’ll be late to the Windows 8 platform as well. It’s unfortunate because ultimately, that seems like a loss for both Microsoft and FaceBook. What do you think? Are you surprised that FaceBook hasn’t had a stronger Windows 8 presence so far? *We reached out to FaceBook but (not surprisingly) they declined to comment for this story*]]>

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Mike Johnson is a writer for The Redmond Cloud - the most comprehensive source of news and information about Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft Cloud. He enjoys writing about Azure Security, IOT and the Blockchain.

All Comments

  • Hmm. I’ve got a fb app on my WP 7.5 (Nokia Lumia 800) which works well. Perhaps there is something in the pipeline?

    Willem October 9, 2012 3:51 pm Reply
    • Maybe. It just seems like a missed opportunity for something major…

      Onuora Amobi October 9, 2012 4:00 pm Reply
  • There is a facebook app in Windows 8. It’s called Internet Explorer ! The WP facebook app isn’t much more then a browser window anyway.

    Marc October 10, 2012 3:05 am Reply
  • Here’s my take. Do you really need an app on Windows 8 if the user experience is better through a browser? The Windows Phone 7.5 app takes forever to load on my phone however, its 2 years old. The Windows Phone integration with Facebook WORKS and is very quick. I just don’t think it’s really needed on a Windows 8 PC or tablet. The Android App, geez… fix it already.

    DigitalSyrup October 11, 2012 6:05 am Reply

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