The tech startup world is focused on San Francisco, Calif. this week and the annual TechCrunch Disrupt event where those hoping to launch the next Facebook or Google rub shoulders with potential investors. Today, these budding entrepreneurs took a break from making sales pitches to listen to their idol, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, speak in front of a standing room only crowd that appeared hypnotically glued to his every word. During the relatively brief Q&A, the young billionaire talked primarily about how his company intends to come back from seeing its stock price nearly halved since its IPO in May. The short answer: Mobile.
1. Facebook sees mobile as its future.
Zuckerberg talked about how he now considers Facebook to be a primarily mobile-oriented company due to the simple fact that more of its users are accessing the social network using mobile devices. "They're spending more time and there's more engagement per person," he said, stating that the company expects "to make a lot more money per person on mobile than we do on the web" from here on out.
Despite the focus on mobile users, Zuckerberg shot down hopes that Facebook will be releasing a smartphone of its own anytime soon. "It just doesn't make sense for us," he said.
2. Its mobile apps have been a disappointment.
Carrying on the theme of mobile users being crucial to Facebook, Zuckerberg admitted that the company's efforts to date in terms of mobile apps have been sub-par. He said that the two years the company spent creating iOS and Android apps built using HTML5 were "one of the biggest strategic mistakes we made.Ã¢Â€Â Facebook now realizes that native apps are the correct path, and recently released a faster native app for iOS (download Facebook for iPhone and iPad) as a first step to rectifying things.
3. The mobile apps will get better.
According to Zuckerberg, it's not just a matter of going native with its apps. He sees this as "laying the foundation" of a better experience. Now that iOS devices have a stronger foundation in place, Facebook intends to build on top of it to provide a better user experience on mobile.
4. Android isn't being overlooked.
Zuckerberg specifically addressed the fact that the Facebook app for Android still lags behind its iOS counterpart. He said that users of devices running Google's mobile operating system can look for a better native app "soon," but wouldn't commit to a release date, instead saying only that the refreshed app will arrive "when it's ready."
5. Instagram will remain a separate entity.
Since Facebook snatched up photo-taking and -sharing service Instagram in April, there has been speculation about what Zuckerberg's company would do with it (besides essentially copying it with its own camera app). Today, he stated that Instagram will be kept as a separate product from Facebook, and will be developed with more features in terms of expanding its own audience. He expects Instagram's interaction with Facebook to "go even deeper" in the future, though, "because they'll have access to the code."
Wrapping up the talk, Zuckerberg said that Facebook remains focused on more than simply raising its stock price. "Looking back in 10 to 20 years, the legacy of this company should be that we connected everyone in the world," he said, adding "And they could share everything they wanted."
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