once said, when asked when we would finally see an iPad app for the social networking service, "iPad isn't mobile. It's a computer, sorry." The implication was that there would never be a Facebook app for Apple's tablet computer, because, frankly, it didn't need one.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Now, according to a new report, things may have changed. An official iPad app for Facebook could be only be weeks away.
The report comes from The New York Times, which cites "people familiar with Facebook's plans" as the source. The app has been in production for nearly a year, they said, and has now reached the final stages of testing. What's more, Zuckerberg has been heavily invested in the process, says NYT, overseeing decisions related to design and feature set. That means his offhand comment back November 2010 was a red herring. The company likely already had an app planned at the time he publicly scoffed at the idea.
Nice move, Facebook. We almost believed you.
After all, the iPad is a computer, not a smartphone that requires a specialized experience due to a smaller screen size. That Facebook would simply optimize its website for the Safari Web browser and leave it at that was certainly believable. In fact, that same sort of optimization is reportedly on its way, too.
Facebook Let 3rd-Party Apps Dominate for Too Long
But the longer Facebook waited to release an official app, the more third-party services rushed in to fill the void. Today, apps like Friendly, iFace, MyPad and others sit at the top of the charts in the iTunes App Store for iPad, indications of the demand for a native Facebook experience.
With some 25 million iPad users, it's odd that the world's largest social networking service has ignored the tablet market for so long. But that may have been a political maneuver on its part. Facebook and Apple have been at odds in the past - for example, when Apple launched its iTunes social networking service Ping, it pulled the Facebook integration at the last minute, citing "onerous terms we could not agree to." And more recently, Apple announced that Twitter, not Facebook, would be the social networking service deeply integrated into iOS 5, the next version of Apple's mobile operating system.
But if the delayed launch of Facebook iPad app had to do with politics, and not its technical nature, the only one really hurt was Facebook itself. Not all of the third-party apps deliver a great experience for end users, leaving frustrated customers with negative feelings towards the brand. That should change soon, too, says the report. Apple plans to feature the official app prominently in the App Store, one source said.