While the iOS update Facebook released Thursday was far superior than the Android update, it’s too soon to say Facebook has chosen sides in the Google vs. Apple mobile device war.
Indeed, Facebook is reportedly asking, or even forcing, its employees to give up their iPhones for Android so they can see its shortcomings. The hope is that the social network’s engineers will move fast to create an Android app that gets just as much praise as yesterday’s iOS overhaul.
“I doubt they are doing this to spite Google,” Terence Kam, founder of Internet business consultant eStrategyPro.com. “After all, Android phones commands a larger market share than iPhones. If Facebook ignores this large advertisement market, they will earn the ire of their shareholders.”
The Facebook iOS upgrade makes progress on fixing two big complaints: The old app was slow and hogged memory. But it also addresses shareholder unrest over slack mobile revenue - the new Facebook app makes it much easier for the company to display mobile ads.
It makes sense that Facebook would undertake the iOS app overhaul first, Ben Romberg of social-media marketing agency Tug said. iPhone owners also tend to be heavy Facebook users, and Apple doesn’t compete directly with Facebook the way Google does with its Google+ social network.
"The potential backlash -- which has been avoided by this recent release -- comes from development of substandard apps that do not deliver the quality and optimisation that Apple consumers have come to expect," Romberg said.
What The Future May Look Like
Expect an Android app update in line with yesterday’s iOS update. Facebook will probably continue to work increasingly closely with Apple, in part because Google is a competitor of both companies. But neither company can ignore Google and the market demand for its products, so it’s unlikely any of the three will break off ties with either of the other two.
For consumers, the latest update is just another push toward increased socialization. And despite a backlash against Facebook in the business and tech press, most Facebook members are pleased with the service, both Kam and Romberg said in separate interviews.
“The vast majority of Facebook's users remain loyal. It's mainly digital insiders, rather than the general social media using population, that feel the fury,” Romberg said. “For consumers of Facebook and Apple products, this will mean that functionality will be dictated by the drive to ‘socialize’ your activity whilst being kept firmly inside Apple's walled garden of pre-approved apps and innovative software development.”