Facebook Raking in Profits from Native Mobile Apps

Wed 11 November 2015 Written by Evi

Mark Zuckerberg: "Betting solely on HTML 5 mobile apps was the biggest mistake we ever made as a company!"


Written by Evi



It's no secret that Facebook is surging in revenue from mobile. In the first quarter of 2015 Facebook posted $3.54 billion of sales – an increase of over a billion dollars year-on-year from 2014. A huge chunk of this new revenue – revenue that Facebook sorely needs to cover its increased spending across the board – has come from mobile sales, as the social networking giant finally seems to be on the right track when it comes to pleasing its mobile user base.

One of Facebook’s strongest suits is its vast user base that connects through the site, but Mark Zuckerberg has always been conscious of how important mobile usage will be to continued success. With mobile app advertising revenue now making up the vast majority of Facebook’s ad profits, mobile app usage is crucial to Facebook’s ongoing accomplishments.


HTML 5 vs. Native Apps

One of the early choices of the company was to bet big on HTML5 mobile apps, which was a popular opinion in the industry several years ago. Choosing to create Facebook mobile apps in HTML5 would on the face of it seem a smart move, as the vast majority of mobile app code could be re-used on multiple devices such as iOS, Android and Windows Mobile. Making changes across the board could be faster and simpler. It also would ensure a cohesive user experience; a user moving from one operating system to another would be faced with a virtually identical interface, enhancing the user experience.

However, Mark Zuckerberg said at a tech conference in 2012 that betting solely on HTML5 mobile apps was the biggest mistake they ever made as a company. Although at the time the HTML5 app had more users than their newly released iOS and Android native apps, the interface ran significantly slower than a native app could. There were significant bugs on all major platforms, making for a frustrating user experience. This meant that the user’s experience of using a competitor’s native app was better than using Facebook’s HTML5 app, and uptake of Facebook mobile use was slower than expected.

The move to focus more strongly on natively-running apps from 2012 by Facebook signaled a significant shift for the company, and many other proponents of HTML5-only mobile applications also began to follow suit, releasing native versions of their mobile applications to leverage the increased speeds to offer better user experiences.

Native App Usage Drives 71% of Facebook’s Ad Revenue

Now, Facebook has a 31% year-on-year increase in mobile daily active users, and mobile ad sales accounted for a staggering 71% of Facebook’s advertising revenue in Q1 2015. Facebook’s success with native mobile apps has been mirrored by others, and now there is little doubt in the significant advantages native mobile apps can offer a business over pure HTML5 interfaces.