CTIA Facebook has launched a fresh attack on the mobile market, unveiling a brand new version of its social networking service for BlackBerry smartphones as well as two new mobile hooks for its much-balleyhooed app development platform.
With his morning keynote at CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment, the mobile trade show now into its second day in downtown San Francisco, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz called the mobile market "his personal passion". Then he trumpeted two new mobile extensions for Facebook Platform, the fledgling API that encourages third-party developers build their own apps for the service.
For the very first time, users can load third-party apps when accessing Facebook from mobile phones. "Third-party applications can now have their own box on your mobile profile," Dustin said. "Your mobile identity should be just as complete as your desktop identity."
And these third-party apps can now send and receive SMS text messages between Facebooker profiles. "Application developers can now register for keywords that let their users interact with apps however they want."
Social networking mavens can already access Facebook via an xhtml site that plays nicely with most of the major mobile web browsers, as well as a mini-site built specifically for the Apple iPhone. But the company's new Blackberry tool is a little different. BlackBerry owners can now tap into the service from a tool that runs right on their handheld.
In announcing the new Facebook app for BlackBerries, Dustin pulled out Mike Lazaridis, the president and co-CEO of RIM. "Now, all the push technology that has made Blackberry famous and all the social networking that made Facebook famous are coming together to provide a real-time experience away from the desktop" he said.
Using this new BlackBerry app, you can track your Facebook profile, and you can update too. "You can take advantage just by taking a picture," Lazaridis explained. "Today, you can email a photo and you can MMS it, and now, if you download this new Facebook application, you have a third option: You can send it to your Facebook account. It's really easy."
And he wants to make sure you know that you can instantly add captions and tags to photos as you send them. "You can add text information using the world famous BlackBerry keyboard."
Dustin is stoked. Facebook is growing even faster on mobile phones, he says, than on the desktop. "At the end of October, we expect to have 4 million district active users across all of our mobile products, and they will do over 300 million active page views [a month]."
Dustin also believes that much like Facebook, all mobile phones should be open to third-party developers. And he's sure that 2008 will see two tech giants take big steps towards this sort of egalitarian wonderland. Apple will open up the iPhone in February, he said, and Google will make a similar move.
"In 2008, Google is going to make a really big move by...well, we don't know yet, do we?" he said. "But it's going to be big and my bet is that it's going to be open." ®