Facebook held a press conference the other day at which CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook does not need an iPad app because the iPad is not a mobile device. The latter part of that statement is an argument in itself, but I want to give three big reasons why Facebook does indeed need to provide their customers with an iPad app.
The biggest problem with using Facebook on Safari is the inability to upload photos and videos. One may argue that the iPad does not have a camera, hence there is no need to upload photos with it. This is simply not true. I may find a photo on the web that I saved to my photo library and desire to share on Facebook. Or perhaps I'm on vacation and uploaded a bunch of photos to my iPad with my camera connection kit and want to share them on Facebook. I could have even synced photos to my iPad and edited them with one of the many photo editing apps available. It'd be nice to immediately upload to Facebook without taking the intermediate step of transferring the photos to my computer first. You get the point. There are many situations in which one might desire to upload a photo to Facebook with their iPad.
Facebook is a social networking platform and, as such, the ability to chat with friends is a big part of the service. But good luck chatting while on your iPad, the ability to do so is simply impossible.
Tagging friends in status updates
When writing a status update for Facebook on a Mac or PC, if you start typing a friend's name preceded by the @ symbol, a drop down menu appears with names of friends you can tag in your post (ex: "@Rene Ritchie"). If you try to do this on an iPad, the menu simply does not appear, making it impossible to tag friends in status updates on the iPad. This is frustrating, to say the least.
These are just three reasons why Facebook needs to design an app for the iPad. There is also the fact that Facebook on the web is designed to be a used with a mouse, not a finger. Yes, it (mostly) works with Safari on the iPad, but the fact of that matter is that the Facebook experience on the iPad could be so much greater with it's own app. Why doesn't Zuckerberg see this?
One of my theories is ads. It's no secret that Facebook makes their money from ads. Most people who use Facebook on their iPhone or iPod touch also spend a lot of time using the web version and thus still see ads. But if an iPad user had an ad-free Facebook application on their iPad, they may never use the web version again. I wouldn't. I have a feeling this is what Zuckerberg meant when he said the iPad is not mobile. iPhone users primarily use the Facebook app when the are out and about - away from a computer. But many iPad users will browse Facebook while at home sitting on their couch - 15 feet away from their desktop or laptop. That's million of users who may potentially never encounter a Facebook ad again.
My solution? Bring the ads! Sure, it may initially upset users to see ads when using a Facebook app on their iPad, but at least the overall experience will be better than using Safari. Sometimes I wonder if Zuckerberg has forgotten who his true customers are - Facebook users.
What do you think about the lack of a Facebook app on the iPad? Do you think ads may being playing a part in its nonexistence? Do you want a separate iPad app or are you happy with using Safari?
Sound off in the comments below!