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Facebook’s Vaughan Smith, VP of Mobile: “We Want to Be a Partner Focused Company”

It’s the first day of the Global Mobile Internet Conference Silicon Valley, and we just heard a keynote from Facebook’s Vaughan Smith, VP of Mobile Partnerships & Corporate Development.

Vaughan began with the admission that one of the biggest reasons for Facebook’s success is that they have moved fast but that ironically not fast enough in mobile. His message throughout the keynote was very clear: Facebook is changing this mistake.

Back in 2008-2009, people that worked on mobile at Facebook had one job: to convert the website to mobile so people could access it on their phones. Today, the company’s product development mindset has completely changed to a mobile first focus. Also, the way they conduct their product reviews has changed. In the past, 80% of screenshots for product review presentations were desktop, now the bulk of the screenshots for product reviews are mobile.

Vaughan shared a few figures that illustrated this shift has worked: 600 million people access Facebook on their mobile phones each month, and the fact that there are now over 140 billion friend connections on Facebook. Additionally, the sponsored stories on news feeds see a ten times higher click-through rate on mobile than on desktop. This is impressive, as Facebook did not have any mobile advertisements Q1 this year.

Apparently one of Vaughan’s main goals for his keynote was to set things straight, as he also took the opportunity to talk about their views on HTML5. Although Facebook jumped on HTML5 too early and put all of their weight behind it when they shouldn’t have, Facebook is excited about HTML5. It is the number one way users come to Facebook. The change they’ve made (as we all know) is they have now spread their focus with a native iOS app and will soon have a native Android app as well.

Vaughan’s third and final message to the GMIC crowd was that Facebook “wants to be a partner focused company”. He reminded the audience that five years ago Facebook was able to disrupt the photo vertical with its tagging feature. They are now the number one in photos on both the web and on mobile. Faced with the question “what do we disrupt next?” rather than trying to disrupt verticals themselves one by one, Facebook decided to build a platform for partners, allowing them to disrupt multiple verticals at the same time and at a much faster speed.

Vaughan called on the developers in the GMIC crowd to think about how they can take advantage of the platform, much like the majority of top iOS and Android apps that have already integrated Facebook’s login mechanism.

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