During a special lunch-time event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today, Facebook's CTO Bret Taylor introduced a number of new industry-wide initiatives for the mobile web. Facebook is also working with a number of other vendors to define better web standards that can be implemented across devices to ensure that users can get a consistent mobile web app experience across devices. The Core Mobile Web Platform, as this new group is called, will work to ensure that there are very specific mobile web standards that developers can expect to be available across devices and mobile browers.
As a part of this initiative, Facebook is also launching a test suite called Ringmark that will measure how well mobile browsers handle these new standards.
Mobile Web Payments
In addition, Facebook is also working with a number of large telecom companies to make payments on the mobile web easier. This, said Taylor, will give developers new ways to monetize their apps and hopefully drive innovation in the mobile web space. Instead of having to go through carrier billing and SMS-based confirmations, developers will be able to tap into Facebook's payment system and quickly confirm purchases.
More from Bret Taylor at MWC
Taylor, who was the co-creator of Google Maps and co-founder of FriendFeed prior to joining Facebook, noted that "Facebook and mobile phones were made for each other." As Taylor also noted, the features in your phone are interesting specs, but their real goal is to connect people. For Facebook then, mobile is a natural platform to be on. Taylor today argued that Mark Zuckerberg would probably have developed the mobile app first if he were starting Facebook today.
Taylor also announced that Facebook now has over 425 million users, many of which don't use smartphones, but still use feature phones. What's especially important to Facebook is that its OpenGraph API enables "anyone to share from any platform," no matter what phone they use. This also means, says Facebook, that its becoming easier to find interesting apps. Today, Facebook drives 60 million users to mobile apps and Taylor specifically noted how Facebook drives millions of people to Pinterest every day.
Disclosure: Orange, which is a partner in some of these initiatives, sponsored my trip to Barcelona.
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Now that Facebook has partnered with the mobile carriers, we can safely conclude that the social network is moving toward a closed-loop payments platform. At present direct billing payments, in which purchases of Facebook Credits (http://www.facebook.com/credits) are charged on the user's cell phone bill, are facilitated by companies like BOKU and Zong, but in the future there will simply be no room for such outsiders. There is too much money at stake and Facebook is, understandably, not interested in sharing. But the social network should expect a bumpy ride ahead, as the payment fees it charges developers are rather exorbitant. At 30 percent of the transaction amount, these fees are very likely to attract regulatory attention soon rather than later and may at some point or other lead to a backlash from developers. http://blog.unibulmerchantservices.com/facebook-partners-with-carriers-moves-toward-closed-loop-payments-platform
3PMobile already has two mobile browsers capable of the above. Not only can they detect the devices capability in real time, they also include advanced content acceleration capabilities and the ability to personalize content and browser menus in real time. They do all of this while protecting your privacy.