Worry Free Labs CEO, Paul Choi recently went to a mobile meet up at Facebook and wanted to share some insight with the broader mobile community.
It's a good time to share my recent experience visiting Facebook. I'm shocked by the price they paid for WhatsApp ($19 billion), but it definitely reflects how important a mobile messaging platform and user growth is for Facebook and their strategic plan.
Facebook's New York office is located on 43rd and Madison. The company currently has over 1.2 billion active users and over 945 million on mobile. Mobile was initially challenging for FB as they invested their time on HTML 5 instead of going native iOS and Android. It's well documented that Zuckerberg admitted they made a mistake going HTML 5 because it was not a great user experience. Mobile has been flourishing since FB made the switch to native iOS and Android two years ago. There are no plans to launch on any other platforms like Windows or Blackberry and they are in the "basement".
One of the highlights of the discussion was the detail Facebook provided regarding development. Facebook ships major new releases and updates every 4th Thursday of each month. Their developers provide an Alpha build every day and Beta three times a week. Even for Facebook, Android is challenging because of all the different devices, screen sizes, chips, etc. Bug fixing is also a challenge and bugs often make it to production because it is hard to test all scenarios. Facebook benefits from having a large beta program of approximately 1 million users. Data and analytics are very important and helps shape future product design. Facebook has a proprietary AB testing system it uses to test and make changes to its product. "But it's not a substitute for good design".
Facebook On a Mission To Connect The World
"Facebook is on a mission to connect to the entire world." The WhatsApp acquisition appears to be an important piece of that strategy. Facebook believes that stand alone Apps help with innovation and although they have had some failures, they will continue to experiment and invest in new apps. The company believes that they are only 1 percent there.
I think startups and companies can benefit from some of the lessons learned from Facebook. They made a mistake going HTML 5 but switched to native iOS and Android because its a better user experience. Even after the mobile product is shipped in the app store, its important to use AB testing to make tweaks and improve it. There's a lot of room for new innovation and Facebook is obviously willing to pay for it!