Facebook has hired James Pearce as its new head of mobile developer relations. Pearce previously led developer relations at HTML5 frameworks provider Sencha. Pearce announced the move on his blog, writing "Not much to say right now--I have a six-week bootcamp to get through--but it's probably sufficient to say the company also has a few interesting ambitions in mobile."
With more than 350 million users worldwide accessing its social networking services via mobile device each month, Facebook recently expanded its Facebook Platform APIs and developer tools to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and the mobile web. According to Facebook, the move represents a significant step towards enhancing mobile interactions, introducing a series of social channels designed to galvanize app discovery and distribution. Developers with existing native iOS apps can begin integrating Facebook Platform tools using Facebook's iOS SDK--mobile web developers are suggested to leverage HTML5 to build cross-platform apps as well as the PhoneGap Facebook plugin for distribution across native app stores.
Recent reports indicate Facebook is presently collaborating with Taiwanese manufacturer HTC to build a branded, Android-powered smartphone delivering deep integration of its services. The smartphone, code-named "Buffy" in honor of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is said to run a heavily modified version of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android OS, and will support HTML5. HTC and rival manufacturers have developed devices with dedicated Facebook buttons, but sources indicate the Buffy phone will incorporate social media services at a far deeper level, integrating contacts and sharing into the core of the user experience.
Both the Facebook Platform effort and the Facebook smartphone are motivated by the company's ambitions to steer users away from native mobile applications and app stores towards a cross-platform, web-based mobile social experience. To that end, Business Insider recently reported that within Facebook, staffers barely regard the smartphone's operating system as a new version of Android--instead, it's considered a "homegrown" mobile OS, with Facebook planning to market it as such. The report adds that Facebook phone engineers have even debated whether "to bother" supporting Android applications.
- read Pearce's blog entry
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