Facebook's mobile czar: We're a mobile company, but no iPad app...yet

Erick Tseng of Facebook teases Mobilize audience with promises of "new paradigm" for smartphone and tablet product.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

Erick Tseng of Facebook, not announcing the iPad app. Rafe Needleman/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO--Erick Tseng, head of mobile products at Facebook, reinforced the theme of mobility at the Mobilize conference he was speaking at when he said, "We're going to become a mobile company." He said that Facebook has more than 350 million mobile users (out of 800 million total), and that the proportion will swing to more than 50 percent within the next year. Also, he said, most of Facebook's users in India, Southeast Asia, and Africa, are via mobile devices.

He did not, however, confirm the existence of the Facebook iPad app, overdue for announcement and now expected, at the very latest, at the Apple announcement on October 4. "The iPad's great," he said. "There's nothing to announce."

Speaking of Apple, when asked why Twitter will be baked into iOS 5, he said, "I can't speak to why [the iPhone 5] doesn't have Facebook integration. I think it would be a great combination. I hope to see it soon."

Tseng confirmed the company position that Facebook is a "platform company," not a social network per se, when discussing the possibility of a "Facebook phone." "We believe every phone should be social," he said, and reminded the audience that Facebook is working with partners like HTC and Sony Ericsson to "bake the platform into their apps layer." It is, he said, "the beginning of what we think of when we see the mobile/social platform. It's kind of a version one."

So what's next? He said, "Notifications on phones was kind of a beta." He teased the audience with what may be the Facebook mobile team's answer to the timeline: "There will be a completely new experience which takes this idea of realtime and relevance to a new level altogether."

No news on when this "new paradigm" will be announced. Tseng only said, "We will keep refreshing the experience to keep people engaged."