Facebook Searching For Ways to Break Into Mobile Apps

Today’s mobile panel at the Facebook f8 developer conference was notable for the subject it didn’t cover: Facebook itself. With four panelists and one moderator from Facebook, everyone involved managed to talk a lot about the iPhone without bringing up Facebook more than a handful of times.

Silence is always an interesting statement. Facebook grew from 20 million to 100 million mobile users over the course of last year, but only through its own mobile applications and sites. We expected the conversation today would have focused more on how mobile app developers could integrate Facebook. But the panelists here — from Booyah, EA Mobile, Lima Sky and Pandora — didn’t say a lot.

Keith Lee of Booyah was the only one to talk much about how his app, My Town, integrated Facebook Connect. The app used Connect to promote its app across groups of friends, helping to drive it back up in the iPhone App Store listings of top apps.

One problem could be that Apple’s new Game Center may offer game developers competing ways to do the same thing.

But Facebook must at least try to break further into mobile apps. Yesterday at our own Inside Social Apps conference, companies like SGN and Ngmoco expressed confidence that social gaming on mobile platforms would soon surpass Facebook’s user numbers. With Facebook’s size projected to double over the same period, that may not be true. But in the long term, any effort Facebook makes on the web must be mirrored in mobile for the company to truly succeed in becoming ubiquitous.

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