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Facebook wants to be mobile-app developers' best friend

Apps for movies, books, and fitness are the key focus for 2013, according to Facebook partner chief Dan Rose.

Facebook partner chief Dan Rose Asa Mathat

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Facebook wants to be the mobile-app developer's best friend. With more than a million apps across iOS and Android, Facebook thinks it can be the primary platform for discovering mobile apps. According to ComScore, 23 percent of time spent in mobile apps happens on Facebook. Of the billion-plus Facebook users, 680 million are accessing the service on a mobile device, and 70 percent come back to the service every day, compared with 40 percent on the desktop, said Dan Rose, vice president of partnerships for Facebook.

"We have made it so if they integrate with Facebook -- 200,000 mobile apps are integrated -- they can share their experience on mobile apps in their News Feed," said Rose.

"Our partners' job is to create great content. Our job is to honor that content," Rose explained. "We are trying to find the right balance between delivering a great user experience and creating value for partners by sending traffic to them and honoring their content." He was speaking with AllThingsD's Mike Isaac in front of a group of media types at the Dive into Media conference here. "We are a big source of traffic. We sent 180 million clicks to Apple and Google Play stores," Rose added.

Of course, Facebook would like app developers to buy ads to further help people discover their products. But honoring the content only makes sense if it's what Facebook users want to see in their News Feed. As Rose said, "We have to keep News Feed interesting," which means honoring what Facebook users want to see via the algorithm.

Rose stated that 2013 is the year that Facebook will focus on apps for movies, books, and fitness. With a change in U.S. laws this year, Netflix users will finally have the option of configuring their accounts to automatically share what they're watching on Facebook.

"Fitness is a little different, but it gives us a peek at the future. It's certainly mobile first, what you need for fitness to really work is to have your device with you," Rose said. "You can then share that with your friends.... Nike+ does this really well.... people can comment during a run and hear your friends cheering you on. Users can also learn about the routes that you ran, and perhaps they'd be interested in joining you for a workout in the future. New use-cases never possible before are being unlocked."

The focus on movies, books, and fitness doesn't mean Facebook is paying less attention to games. Currently 250 million of the more than a billion Facebook users play games each month.

Echoing CEO Mark Zuckerberg's insistence that Facebook is a mobile company, Rose said, "We talk about 'mobile first' in 2012, but we want to be 'mobile best' in 2013. We want to create some mobile experiences that simply can't be done on the desktop." If revenue is an indicator on "mobile first," Facebook reported that mobile accounted for 23 percent of ad revenue in the fourth quarter, up from 14 percent in the third quarter. The "mobile best" effort is just getting under way.