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Zuckerberg: More Opportunities in Mobile Than Desktop

Facebook CEO’s first public talk since IPO
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The one thing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made clear in his first time speaking publicly since the company’s May IPO (except during its July earnings call): Facebook is all-in on mobile. The company’s been getting pounded for its mobile monetization plans since admitting it struggled with those plans in a May regulatory filing, but it’s easy for people “to underestimate how fundamentally good mobile is for us,” Zuckerberg said on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt today. 

Facebook executives spent the summer talking to advertisers and agencies about its mobile-first strategy and how it’s a mobile-first company, which Zuckerberg reiterated during the company’s second-quarter earnings call. Today he underscored the point (even saying that he wrote on his mobile phone the 2,173-word letter to investors in the company’s initial regulatory filing). Users are spending more time on Facebook through mobile than on desktop, which means Facebook has more opportunities to make money off those users, Zuckerberg said, noting that Facebook’s mobile ads outperform its desktop ads that run along the right rail.

The positive performance of Facebook’s mobile products should help ease the beatdown Facebook’s taken from Wall Street since going public. Zuckerberg admitted that “the performance of the stock has obviously been disappointing,” but that stock gained 3 percent today in after-hours trading to return above the $20 mark—though it’s still lost roughly half its value since IPO day.

Obviously not everything has gone Facebook’s way in mobile. The company’s iOS app had been widely derided for being slow, so Facebook retooled it in an August update. “It was not where we wanted it to be before…and even what we have now is not as good as it can be,” Zuckerberg said. Not that an inferior iOS app turned off all of Facebook’s mobile users. Zuckerberg said more users visit Facebook’s mobile site per day than its iOS or Android apps combined.

Mobile dominates Facebook’s focus going forward, but that’s not the only subpar product the CEO has on his mind. Facebook receives 1 billion search queries per day, he said. But Facebook isn’t very good at search. Zuckerberg said the company has a team working on search and that building out the product is “one obvious thing that would be interesting for us to do in the future if we got to a state where we’re excited about it.”

Zuckerberg also shed a little light on Facebook’s plans for Instagram. That acquisition finally closed last week, but Instagram users need not fear the mobile app being shut down and relaunched within Facebook’s mobile apps. Zuckerberg said Instagram will follow the product roadmap he discussed with Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom prior to the acquisition talks, describing those plans as “things [Instagram] would have done if [they were still only] an Open Graph partner.”