Latest Facebook reshuffle puts mobile at the top of the pack

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Latest Facebook reshuffle puts mobile at the top of the pack

Facebook on Thursday said that it has shaken up its engineering teams to make targeting smartphones a top priority at the world’s leading social network.

“We have really just re-organized the company to build faster on mobile,” Facebook director of product management Peter Deng said during a briefing with reporters at the company’s campus in Menlo Park, California.

“In the past six months we transplanted mobile engineers to the other teams,” he continued. “Slowly, over time we are making everyone a mobile engineer.”

Facebook users have been shifting from accessing the social network on desktop computers or laptops to smartphones and tablet computers, where the company doesn’t serve-up money-making ads.

About 7,000 different models of mobile devices are used daily to connect with Facebook and the challenge is to tailor experiences for each gadget, according to Facebook Product Manager Mick Johnson.

A focus on HTML 5 technology to connect across the spectrum of smartphones using mobile Web browsers resulted in lackluster results, according to Facebook.

“The performance was not what our users expected and we weren’t happy with it either,” Johnson said.

Facebook released a rebuilt application for iPhones a few weeks ago and saw its rating in Apple’s online App Store go from two to four stars.

“Internally, we are psyched,” Johnson said. “This is really just the start of the road for us; there are many things we want to do.”

Dough Purdy, Facebook’s director of developer products, pulled an iPhone from one pocket of his jeans and an Android-powered smartphone from another, referring to them as the most social devices people have ever had.

Giving outside developers tools to optimize Facebook-synched applications for users of Apple or Android gadgets is part of the company’s intensified focus on mobile, according to Purdy.

“Facebook has become a powerful engine for third-party developers to acquire new users,” Purdy said. “And gaining new users is the name of the game; it is how you make money in this new world.”

About 225 million people each month go to the Facebook App Center, which helps people find “social” applications based on factors such as what friends at the social network like.

“We are trying to deliver the best user experience whatever platform is available,” Purdy said, noting that Facebook engineers remain bullish on HTML 5 technology for connecting with people through Web-browsing software.

“HTML 5 is great to give us reach because most devices have some kind of Web browser,” he explained. “We are building native applications for Android and iOS, but we can’t build for all the devices that exist.” AFP

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