I'm not saying that it's an easy problem. You have to find the right balance between which components should be native or not. It's clear from the other problems that Facebook's been able to solve that they know how to hire top-notch developers. They just failed to do so for their mobile efforts, which just reinforces the stereotype that they don't "get" mobile.
To clarify: I'm not saying that facebook's HTML5 developers can't hold their own -- they produced a great looking mobile app with a truckload of functionality (and believe me, I understand code bloat). Maybe someday it will run flawlessly on mobile. But right now to produce a nice experience in HTML5 you must optimize from the start. Run your code on the device from day 1, not in Chrome with the vertical web inspector! Host your scripts on dev servers with artificial lag. Figure out what's slowing you down on day 1 and work around it! And one day you won't have to :)
One of the big promises of mobile HTML5 was that you could just take your desktop web apps, scale them down, give them new CSS, and they'd "just work". It doesn't work that way. You need to test on actual mobile devices from the start, you need to account for the lower CPU performance of them, you need to figure in higher latency over 3G connections vs. wired LANs.
You have to do all of this on native apps anyway, but you know you have to do it from the start, otherwise you can't even get your app to display, and the frameworks are built with this in mind. There're still some areas where HTML5 wins - it's easier to update the app, for one, and it's more familiar to web developers. But the developer-convenience scales were not shifted as far to the HTML5 side as people hoped they were.
I'm still not sure which technology is, on the whole, better for mobile apps. But one of the signs that you actually understand a problem domain is that you can give advice more specific than just "Competing technology X is better than competing technology Y". We aren't going to get that in a TechCrunch soundbite; there're a lot of specifics that depend upon exactly what your market is.
This should be the actual soundbite, and it bears repeating.
If your app is a simple broacherware+notifications app, then HTML5 is probably the way to go.
If you can afford expert developers for every platform and mobile is critical to your success then 100% native makes sense.
There just isn't a simple answer here. To quote nostrademons:
I'm still not sure which technology is, on the whole, better for mobile apps. But one of the signs that you actually understand a problem domain is that you can give advice more specific than just "Competing technology X is better than competing technology Y"
If you go for a native app, you'll have to practically start over for every operating system.
- How easily can I debug things if something breaks?
- In case I'm not happy with a certain behavior is it a dead end or can I simply swap out a parameter / function / module (in that order)?
These two aspects are IMO essential for choosing any development environment if I have the choice. This goes for web development too, which is why I'd prefer something like Django over something like Joomla for example. I don't even care so much about performance at that point.
Do you agree with me that at least in case of iOS, native beats html+js+webviews in those two points?
The big downside is the one Facebook found, js in a webview is just... slow.
"It's not really that HTML5 requires extra work, it's that it lets you get away with not putting in extra work and then the lack of that work ends up biting you in the end."
I have never experienced such hard-torque spin in my life. It's not that you would need to put in overtime if you worked here. It's just that we really let you get away with never putting in overtime, if you don't want to. And then that lack of overtime ends up biting you in the end.
If you put in <x> effort into HTML5 you'll have a slow, shitty version. If you put in <x+y> you'll have a nice fast version.
If you put in <x> effort with a native app, you have nothing. If you put in <x+y> you have a working, fast app.
You get a working prototype faster with HTML5, but that's not a fair comparison with a native app which took more work to get working at all.
And it doesn't help that where native frameworks have built-in controls to do a lot of things - and those controls look and feel native simply because they have the home field advantage of being what everything else has to mimic - HTML5 is left with a bunch of shitty webapp frameworks and the option of reimplementing everything yourself. The creators of those frameworks seem to assume things like if the animation looks vaguely like the original, there's no need to actually get the details right to avoid uncanny valley, or make it performant at all, so you probably want to make it yourself. I hope you know what you're doing.
As much as I love HTML5, you have to fight every step of the way to make something that works right. Getting a prototype out is easier with HTML5 than native, but for a moderately complex app, making it actually work right is vastly harder.
(I do like the better layout systems and widget libraries of native frameworks - I did desktop app development with Swing and MFC before HTML/JS, and it really was significantly easier to put together a complex UI that matches the native look & feel with those. HTML5 gives you the opportunity to be creative that you don't have when you overrely on a framework, though.)
An app which all of 50 people use --and many of them curse while doing it.
> in the U.S., Yahoo is No. 1, with 96.6 million active users
So anyway, if you put X efforts, the native app will always win, because it can do all the stuff the HTML5 app can do, but also more, faster, without intermediate layers, in a more native way and with more native look & feel.
Without to mention that for Facebook to use 2x resources to develop the application would be not an issue.
The current Facebook app, if developed by competent guys, is a 3 months project by 2 people, per platform. A joke for FB. (Note: I'm talking only about the app itself, not the backend that is an invariant).
On iOS, using HTML5 decoupled deployment of functional changes from the App Store approval process. They could add a new feature on the servers and have it available on phones immediately. Certain parts of the new app still use HTML to allow new features without updating the whole app.
On Android, HTML5 let them support a large number of phones with fewer special cases to work around old versions of the OS and phone-specific bugs.
If I can build a Facebook client that covers the most important features within 3 months (at 2 evenings per week after work) then I'd bet that a company like Facebook (with hundreds of developers that are much better than I am) could invest the needed resources (maybe 3-4 developers per platform) to create a truely amazing native experience.
I'd even argue that it is not an option for anyone in their position to even consider going HTML5 just to reuse some code.
That would be just the wrong place to save a few bucks for them, considering that they need to make a transition to mobile pretty soon and failing to do so would be an open invitation for competitors to come and basically kill them.
Additionally I'd like to add that I am not convinced that is even possible (or if so many times harder) to create a content rich application like Facebook with webviews wrapped in native code that feels as fluid and responsive as a full native app.
I have tried this in the beginning with my Facebook client (app link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.flipster) and failed miserably before stopping this webview nonsense, and so did the Facebook developers.
On the scale of Facebook's resources, building well-functioning apps just isn't a hard problem. Not saying it's not hard, just saying it's not hard on the scale of Facebook's resources.
Additionally making the mobile app run smoothly on any device is just the bare minimum for what they should deliver.
It's hard to not compare it against competition like the Android Google+ app, which absolutely crushes the Facebook app (I'm talking about the UI here, not about the social network itself), and that's where my sketicism comes from.
Even if someone was able to deliver a WebView based app like Facebook, running smoothly on cheap devices, other competitors betting on native (like Google+) would still be in a different league.
First of all, if going native, you'll have to put in twice the effort for targeting both Android and iOS, while an HTML5 app can be easily ported to WinPhone or even Symbian.
Will it be shittier than a native app if doing a straight port with no effort to make it seem native? Most definitely YES, but at least you've got an app to give to your customers that want to use your product. Because no matter how cool the new Facebook app is on iOS, I'm still and will continue to be an Android user.
Also, I do not agree that it's easier to develop that native app in the first place. I can easily do things in HTML5 in terms of UI that I wouldn't know were to begin with native widgets. All is fine and dandy when you're using the standard widgets, but if you want to have non-standard behavior, or to put your personal touch on the design, then all hell breaks loose, because those native widgets ARE NOT as fluid, as easy to change or as composable as a bunch of divs with CSS attached. People underestimating this point have never worked on designing interfaces in both HTML5 and native widgets.
And for the record, I hate the native app because it's slower than when using the website in my browser. But the work they did also improved the mobile website, which I find to be awesome.
The current Facebook app, if developed by
competent guys, is a 3 months project by 2 people
So in the short term, a better mobile experience hurts, not helps, FB's bottom line. So they'll likely be looking at spending their development resources elsewhere.
This isn't true any more. The new version of the Facebook iOS app includes sponsored "your friend liked [brand]" callouts periodically in the news feed.
Yes, but they didn't have anything like it on mobile until just recently. The iPhone app was zero revenue. It is now non-zero revenue.
Am I wrong that this basic design is Hewitt's?
A relevant news item here: http://techcrunch.com/2009/11/11/joe-hewitt-developer-of-fac...
(Of course, this depends heavily on the app.)
HTML5 webviews helped them do this, and worked on both android and iOS.
NaCL would, like java applets vs java apps, or flash, have let them do this too.
Why does Facebook not need to produce particularly high-quality software?
By paying less attention to quality, Facebook has been able to focus on other things, like making the company a fun place to work at that can attract and retain talented engineers. Facebook would probably be less fun if it cared more about quality.
Facebook's product is a website, so it can fix things quickly. It has a process which permits rapid deployment of new code, and rapid rollback of buggy changes. This reduces the cost of recovering from bugs.
Facebook's product has a lot of momentum and lock-in. The barrier for users or businesses to move off Facebook is very high. This gives Facebook a wider margin of error to ship glitchy software. If Google was broken for a day, you'd probably go to Bing and might not come back. If your iPhone pissed you off all the time, you'd probably buy an Android when you're faced with the decision in a year or two. If you can't order something on Amazon, you can order it from somewhere else. If Facebook is broken, you keep coming back until it works again.
I'd say that Facebook's acquisition of top talent has much more to do with them having huge pre-IPO monetary incentive and less to do with being a "fun place to work".
Any impediment to shipping code makes things less fun for many developers.
Because "fun place to work" obviously means beer and bongs passing around, in-office swimming pool, bikini models, pool and air-hockey tables, and Futurama watching marathons.
Which doesn't result in the highest quality products, if any products at all.
Not saying the stuff associated with quality is bad -- quite the opposite -- but (at least to me) that part isn't particularly fun.
Yeah, MZ is not smart so it is not surprising that he would say not correct things...
1. The cost of maintaining iOS and Android is something like 1.5x the cost of maintaining just one or the other. Most of the investment is architecture and design. About 50% of the design is portable across iOS and Android.
2. Developing reliable HTML5 that behaves predictably is as expensive as developing for a native platform. You may already have the skills, but that doesn't make it less expensive.
3. Most touch frameworks (jQuery mobile, etc.) get you 85% of the way there and then you're stuck. To get an app that can compete with native in terms of realization of design, you end up with lots of non-framework code.
4. (Android specific) The same fragmentation that hurts native development hurts support for HTML5. The test matrix for HTML5/browser compatibility on Android is almost as daunting as the native support. Different device/os versions have different web cores that have different foibles. Its just as big a grab bag as ever.
5. Multimedia support for these environments is just atrocious. Unless you can proxy/convert all content, all but the most trivial content is inaccessible. You end up calling into other applications on the platforms which can present a much less compelling presentation to the user.
I'm not going to say its impossible. I'm leaving out all the arguments of performance because it just gets to be to specific to the use case. I have not seen a compelling example of a unified mobile & desktop browser code base that would eliminate all mobile maintenance. Besides just having people rip up my points, I'd be interested in hearing what HTML5 components people are finding make these issues manageable.
In the long run, its not black or white. We use HTML5/css/js for some things and native for most things. Its how we keep things moving but I'm sure we'll revisit this over and over to make sure we keep investing in the right platform.
The good thing about this is the browsers and standards people need a wake-up call. See the comments in Paul Irish's recent thread about this .
There are people who are content to plod along and debate the finer points of one attribute or another, while native APIs are steaming ahead. Quotes like "We burned two years" and "Betting completely on HTML5 was the biggest strategic mistake Facebook made" from Facebook's CEO are the kind of evidence that should get people to wake up and smell the coffee, if they still haven't done so.
These things can live in harmony, not exclusivity.
In my opinion he was just issuing blanket statements to warm the cold reality that Facebook doesn't care about quality.
If this was really the case, why wouldn't he just say, "hey, it was just our first draft" or something similar, rather than blaming an entire technology?
What you'll find amazing when you read W3C mailing lists is only a tiny minority of those people invited to participate actual work on apps that are used by end users.
From the developer perspective, who wants to sit on mailing lists or participate in forums and argue about wording and syntax verbiage?
From the 'standard people' perspective, writing the code is 'the easy part', and getting all these competing interests (ie: other standards people) to agree on something is the 'hard part'.
They're both right...
For a company that rewards good Urls with high rankings, why didn't they even make an effort?
And I'm talking about a small startup. To take the HTML5 approach to develop a mobile application for a very large company is simply silly IMHO, and Facebook CEO is right that this was an huge error in their side.
Unless you already have an HTML5 desktop app. In which case, the only thing you're doing is modifying the UI for touch-based input and a smaller screen ... which doesn't take much time at all.
Facebook's problem was that their app sucked. It didn't suck because it was HTML5. It sucked because it was done poorly.
It does not matter that's HTML+CSS+JS both sides, the device, the interaction, the screen real estate, and the user behaviour when seeing this content in mobility is different.
Actually the risk is that trying to make an HTML5 desktop app also good for mobile is that you overlook a lot of good interactions that are not natural consequences if the starting point is the desktop app.
I'm actually working on this right now.
HTML and CSS served to both desktop and mobile are identical. HTML is just headers and an empty body tag. CSS has shared code and @media specific to each interface.
Everything you can do on the desktop, you can do on mobile. The only differences are in how the visual elements are presented.
Having been down this path before, I predict you will find that the "last 10%" of those small, annoying things that don't quite work like native mobile apps in HTML5 will take the same amount of time to fix as developing the rest of the app.
If you don't think this is the case then either you aren't far enough along to hit the problems or your app doesn't make heavy use of hardware (which - given that it is also a desktop app - it sounds like it probably doesn't). In the second case then using HTML5 makes good sense.
Bingo. Would be surprised if it lagged on hardware from 10 years ago.
> The only differences are in how the visual elements are
In short to develop a native application does NOT take more time than developing one in HTML5, at least for iOS devices.
But then if you want to support Android, you need another native app. And then another one again if you want to support, say, the new Windows phones. In contrast, a web app that is mobile friendly can be reasonably portable across platforms with a single codebase.
Moreover, even if you can develop your app within the same time frame, you still have the App Store approvals process to pass, and you have Apple cutting significantly into your revenues if you're charging.
Obviously these arguments probably don't apply to Facebook, but you said you were talking about a small startup, where everything above is definitely relevant.
1) Most stuff is developed for Android and iOS, and all the rest is served via a CSS that is made mobile-friendly. So developing a native app for iOS + Android you cover 95% of the important target in the best way, and all the rest can stil access your services. So actually, for now, it's just two platforms and not N at least.
2) If you do the iOS application first, instead of trying to make the Android/iOS in parallel, then the Android app takes like 30% of the time of the first at max. You end just copying the iOS app just "translating it" into Java+Android SDK, so the time, in my experience is not 100% + 100%.
4) It's true that apple takes 30%, but the possibilities of customers just hitting "purchase" button with a 0.99$ price tag or alike are a lot bigger compared to creating your way of making them paying. So IMHO the 30% cut often is justified by the advantages in the "processing" of the payment and in a raise in percentage of people motivated to buy because it's simply easier for them.
5) It's true that you can do stuff like playing videos, capturing images, or audio, or location. But trust me, if you try to do Instagram using this API the result is NOT the same. Doing stuff in HTML5 is often too slow, or you have too little control about how stuff is presented (see HTML5 playing of videos on iOS), or you can't use gestures well enough, or stuff are not working ok on Android or vice versa. Tons of problems.
6) A big pro of native is background. The iOS / Android location service that can awake your app when there is a significant change of position is extremely useful in a lot of social-alike apps.
So even with the small startup IMHO the quality you end with, responsiveness, and often also easy of development, more than justify to go native for everything but the most "just show some content" of the apps.
But after all, even Facebook should classify as a "most show a feed of stuff" app, that is one of the naturally prone to work in a decent way with HTML5, but still...
1. Allowing an IPO that was vastly overpriced.
2. Keeping Zuckerberg in the CEO role for too long.
3. Taking their users for granted.
Obviously the first has seriously damaged their credibility, and with it their ability to hire and retain people who could solve their problems and grow the business.
I believe the second has a similar effect. Aside from the catastrophe of the IPO, Facebook don't appear to be going anywhere strategically. The cat is out of the bag in terms of cost effectiveness (or lack thereof) of Facebook ads compared to alternatives like Google. And generating ad revenue on small-screen mobile is bound to be harder, whether you're using HTML5 or anything else, because the physical screen size only provides so much space.
The third will probably be what finally kills them. As long as they can maintain the critical mass of users, the "everyone's on Facebook because everyone's on Facebook" effect, they can get away with a lot. But no-one using Facebook goes there for the ads, and no-one really likes all the privacy invasion. These things are merely tolerated, and only up to a point, because people like being sociable and right now Facebook lets them keep in touch with their friends and family more conveniently than anyone else.
So when Zuckerberg says "Over the next three to five years, the biggest question on everyone's mind is really going to be how well Facebook does with mobile", I think perhaps he's getting ahead of himself. The biggest question I would ask, if I were a potential investor, is whether Facebook will still have that critical mass of users in three to five years, or whether, like every popular social forum on the Web before them, they will have been disrupted by the new shiny.
The post-IPO share price decline is bad but I have not seen much, if any, evidence that it has hindered the ability to hire and retain employees. In fact, an easy case can be made that the smaller valuation creates much more upside for the RSUs that Facebook issues.
Mark is one of the premier CEOs of his generation. Removing him would be completely insane. He is, by far, the single most responsible for having created a $60 billion company, something few can ever even hope to do.
Facebook is extremely customer-focused and I don't think the privacy dust-ups suggest strongly otherwise. It's fashionable but trite to think Facebook will got "the same route" as properties before it. Pretty much the same thing gets said about any lasting company. It doesn't take much intelligenc or curiosity to consider that's not always the case.
There aren't many CEOs in his generation (of large companies) so that's not a great comparison. Facebook is also a $40B company, it has dropped like a rock since the shares became liquid. How much lower before his leadership is questioned? With the lack of growth and low profits I could easily see another $10-15B dropping off in short order.
Please note that those three points were my projections for how history will look back on the company. I'm not claiming there is some mountain of robust scientific evidence to support my position right now.
Having said that, anecdotes predict the real data surprisingly often, and there doesn't seem to be any shortage of Facebook people who aren't impressed at half of the money they thought they had to fund their big house purchases disappearing before they could do anything about it. And of course, it's still relatively soon after the IPO, and a lot of the funds are only starting to become available around now. You wouldn't expect a mass exodus when a lot of money was still locked up.
As for recruiting new people, again I don't suppose Facebook are about to disclose hard data that makes them look bad, but where has the buzz gone? Pre-IPO, everyone and his brother seemed to want in, presumably in part because of the potential for a huge pay-off that everyone expected Real Soon Now. Without that incentive, and with plenty of other new businesses competing in the market that don't have Facebook's baggage, I find it hard to believe that they are still attracting the same quantity and quality of applicants as they did say 2-3 years ago.
Mark is one of the premier CEOs of his generation. He is, by far, the single most responsible for having created a $60 billion company, something few can ever even hope to do.
Is he, really? Or was he just in the right place at the right time, and if it hadn't been him and Facebook, it would have been someone else and their start-up instead?
As for being a $60B company, I think you're a little out-of-date. They're down to just over $40B already. In any case, I'm more inclined to judge big tech companies by how much money they actually make and not some random number the markets generate and label "market cap". And as of the first earnings call since going public, Facebook were actually making a loss.
Obviously that wasn't a typical earnings period because of the various stock-related factors, but they're taking roughly $1B per quarter in revenues, and making around $300M per quarter of profit after adjusting for the one-offs. At that rate, to justify their current $40B valuation, they would need to sustain that level of profitability for over 30 years, or increase profitability through growth.
But where will this growth come from? By Zuckerberg's own admission, the market is increasingly moving to mobile for their social networking; that limits the opportunities to show as many ads. Their growth in user numbers has slowed to a crawl, because there are only so many people in the world to sign up and some of the ones who did sign up are going to get bored and do something else. And the return on investment for on-line advertising is falling over time, a pattern which has been evident for quite a while now, which is a third threat to a business model like Facebook's.
In short, I don't think Facebook are anything like a $60B company. If you do, I assume you're investing heavily at this point, since you'll surely see a 50% ROI?
It's fashionable but trite to think Facebook will got "the same route" as properties before it. Pretty much the same thing gets said about any lasting company. It doesn't take much intelligenc or curiosity to consider that's not always the case.
Perhaps not. But usually it is, particularly in entertainment industries, and particularly in fast-moving tech industries. Ten years ago, Microsoft were riding high after the release of Windows XP, Apple were a has-been, a couple of guys had started a little company called Google that was attracting a bit of attention as an alternative search engine, and Facebook wouldn't even exist for several years.
In any case, it still doesn't matter. Your argument for Zuckerberg's effectiveness is that he has built a very valuable company. Part of my argument is that it's funny money and the company isn't really that valuable at all. Whether we're thinking of the same kind of "funny money" doesn't make any difference to this argument.
Q) Wasn't this $100 billion not so long ago?
A) Yes, and if things progress, it'll be $2 billion in six months.
Q) Who provided MZ with the finance, the clout and the film, not to mention a whole lot of other perks?
A) The people who really made Facebook what it is.
Anyone who thinks that the Facebook saga is one lone libertarian hero proving Capitalism need to... re-evaluate their maturity levels.
 Please note the # of total shares about to hit the market.
August 15th, 2012: 268 million shares, 10% of shares outstanding.
October 14th: 249 million shares, 9% of shares outstanding.
<b>November 13th: 1.332 billion shares, 49% of shares outstanding.</b>
December 13th: 124 million shares, 5% of shares outstanding.
May 17th, 2013: 47 million shares, 2% of shares outstanding.
In short, I can't logically see how the extra 50% swimming free will raise their share price. But then again, that's why I'm not paid the big bucks to work at JP & the Street, there's no doubt some plan afoot.
As others have pointed out, that's a feature not a bug. They raised a ton of money for not much equity, which is the best case result for an IPO from the company standpoint. Not so much for the suckers who bought.
> 2. Keeping Zuckerberg in the CEO role for too long.
As a consequence of #1, Zuck did not give up control. He can stay there until the equity is worth $0.00/share.
The only consequence of #1 and #2 is that he pissed in the pool for all those that follow, because the suckers have been bled dry. And when you think about it, that means IPO is not as much of a possibility for all the future acquisition targets for FB. Total win for the company.
Because of their other "mistakes", I will not allow their app anywhere near my devices. A general lack of trust is a mistake that Facebook can't fix.
Mark said they bet too heavily on HTML 5. Did that mean the people who wrote the HTML 5 standards failed them? Or that Google and Apple failed them for writing code that couldn't sufficiently run HTML 5 apps? Or that they overestimated their engineers' abilities to write good HTML 5 apps? Or that they thought HTML 5 was going to be something that it isn't?
Honestly, I don't think he meant any of those things. There is no hidden meaning here: They used HTML 5. It didn't work they way they'd hoped. Now they're using something else. That's it. End of story.
Props to the guy for finding something that wasn't good and fixing it. That's what a CEO is for.
Now they are optimizing for a higher quality product which requires different developer skills and resources. It seems to be paying off.
Neither strategy was wrong so much as maybe how long they stuck with a particular strategy.
One way to help is to ask for lower level OS apis to be exposed by browsers, so that the open source community can do the rest:
1. Ask for UDP to be exposed to trusted web apps installed by the user. This will let the P2P community race ahead without having to wait for WebRTC to get released and then fixed.
2. Ask for TCP to be exposed to trusted web apps installed by the user. This will instantly enable things like SMTP clients running in the browser without the need for WebSocket proxies/proprietary gateway servers.
3. Ask for POSIX to be exposed to trusted web apps installed by the user. This will lead to an explosion of database innovation in the browser. IndexedDB is design-by-committee. Insist on proper POSIX not the FileSystem API. Borrow from the Node API. Impedance mismatch is crippling browser storage.
4. Low-hanging fruit: ask for LevelDB to be exposed directly (http://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=128865). Most of the browser vendors are using LevelDB underneath IndexedDB, and just exposing LevelDB directly would already be a huge leap forward. No need to wait for the many IndexedDB bugs to get fixed by browser vendors.
WebGL has been a good example of the difficulties you face when offering low level access- buggy graphics drivers could result in an all-out crash.
Consider Tim Berners-Lee: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-webapps/2012JanMa...
And Alan Kay: http://www.drdobbs.com/architecture-and-design/interview-wit...
Maybe HTML5 is in a similar position, may work well for web, but mobile app eocsystems are not yet technologically ready for it to be disrupted. We see it time and time again in history where a new tech takes a while before it becomes good enough to break through (CMOS vs CCD), (HDD vs Floppy vs Tape). (Mainframe -> PC -> Cloud)
There was, after all, a lot of rumour that Facebook would release their own phone. This made sense if your objective is to provide an alternative to mobile OS's, and even more, to overtake your competitors. The belief including the possibility of evolutionary superiority.
Things change. Google supplies Chrome through the app store despite the restrictions imposed by Apple, and this has not weakened the power of Google at the expense of Apple. There are many examples of stepwise cooperation. It has not diminished their independance. And Facebook likewise should probably not have been so concerned that acquiescing to the other majors on mobile would pidgeon hole them as a very very big Instagram style dependant.
Facebook has lost time by being over guarded in my view. On the other hand, this admission by facebook demonstrates a recognition of a kind of failure. I suspect the notion that Facebook will grow to be an organisation that is an evolutionary step beyond Google is now viewed as the real strategic error by them.
As to HTML5 being a mistake, I could be wrong, but I don't really think that that's what he actually means. He's trying to explain himself without admitting some things.
I think the situation is different for small companies and apps that have many fewer users: saving money on app development frees resources for content production.
Is there some expectation that HTML is suddenly a replacement for native apps? That's a rather unexpected (to me, at least) positioning of HTML.
When I used their app at the time, I always found myself waiting for the CSS for each view to load.
“When I’m introspective about the last few years I think the biggest mistake that we made, as a company, is betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native… because it just wasn’t there. And it’s not that HTML5 is bad. I’m actually, on long-term, really excited about it. One of the things that’s interesting is we actually have more people on a daily basis using mobile Web Facebook than we have using our iOS or Android apps combined. So mobile Web is a big thing for us.”
There is an article for every statement that zuck made onstage. Getting pageviews is a priority, I guess.
Obviously, I don't work at Facebook so I don't know all the details, but I remember when Joe Hewitt built the native Facebook app, while it was awesome, it was lacking many features 4 months after it's release.
Since developing on iOS can take as much as 2 times longer than HTML development (+ the release cycle with Apple approvement system), it makes sense, in my mind, that they opted to have as much of HTML 5 code as possible.
DISCLAIMER: My first language isn't english.
Yet that's essentially what HTML5 apps are all about -describing the interface in markup and processing it at runtime. In what way is native not always going to be better for a given platform?
So if you want to collect fees from publishers, don't own the browser or the OS (and are not the content creator) - use a closed app.
From the viewpoint of FB this might be (a short-sighted) way forward. It's not in the interest of the publishers and content providers - but again that seemingly doesn't bother FB.
I sure am tired of hearing people talk about 'html5' as if the situation of native vs. browser apps is really any different now than it has been for the past 5 or 10 years.
I don't see these issues with the android version, and it doesn't seem like Facebook is jumping at getting a native android app out there.
Is HTML really to blame?
Is he blind or just wilfully ignorant?
Applications should be done natively.
HTML is for documents.
But never dare you touch a C*O for the failure of a corporation!
Here's an example of what a small team + HTML5 is capable of: http://ro.me
Thus, it seems pretty silly to act as if HTML5 is incapable.