Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mark Zuckerberg's iPad

During a recent press conference Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg stated that the iPad wasn't mobile. Most of the tech blogs from Engadget to Mashable have puzzled over or poked fun at his comment. What makes me laugh is that while I don't agree with Mark about much, what he said makes some sense.

Yes, the iPad is running iOS like the iPhone and the iPod touch. Even so, Mr. Zuckerberg suggested that the iPad was a computer as opposed to a mobile device. As the lines between form factor separating one device from another gets blurry, the companies producing online content still have to make distinctions relative to how they reach people through those devices.

Where Facebook is concerned, the iPad is a computer with a browser. I think Mark was being pretty clear. Why then were so many tech pundits and gadget reviewers baffled? Look at who they work for.

Deciding to create an app to reach out to a form factor instead of making your content more viewable on mobile browsers is baffling to me. In most cases, these apps are not a better surfing experience to a web browser. The Ars Technica and Mashable Apps are subpar as compared to just poking through their sites on mobile Safari.

Apologizing for a web site that doesn't render well on a mobile browser with an app that does a worse job will only make your audience angry. You'd think this would be common sense. It's sad that Mr. Zuckerberg is the only one who has figured that out.

If someone told me I had to download a custom app on my desktop computer to view what should otherwise be web content, I'd assume it was a scam.

I have a web browser on my iPad. That is where I will be viewing the bulk of my web content. I don't think I'm alone. How is that hard for so many online entities to understand?

What about apps like Flipbook, Instapaper, or Netflix? Each is providing me an enhanced experience, something better than what my browser can provide. If every web content rendering app promised the same, I'd change my tune.

I think what Mark was trying to say is this: Facebook was born, made it's money, and prospered within the browser. Why would they leave the mall (the web) to sell their product put of their garage (an app)?

I wouldn't.

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