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Zuckerberg’s Right: iPad Isn’t Mobile

by on November 9th, 2010

I’ll be honest. I’m neither a fan of Facebook nor of Mark Zuckerberg. I find Facebook’s privacy policies to be abhorrent, their developers to be incompetent, and business model to be sketchy. Given his iPad comment last week though, I think I may start respecting him more.

In short, Mark Zuckerberg claims that the iPad isn’t Mobile, and I think he’s right.

During Facebook’s Mobile press conference last week [coverage here], Zuckerberg was asked when an iPad Facebook app will arrive, and he casually dismissed the iPad as not mobile, bringing on a number of jeers from the tech community. On hindsight though, Mark is right. The iPad isn’t really a mobile device. It’s something different and more. Here’s how I see it.

1. Simple app ports from mobile devices to tablets do both a disservice

Granted, the most popular iPad apps in the store right now may all be ports of popular iPhone/iPod Touch games [i.e. Angry Birds, UNO, GoodReader, Twitter, Kindle, etc.]. However, they aren’t simply iPhone+iPad versions of the same app. They are, in fact, iPad optimized versions catered to a different form factor, and a different user experience. A direct port (or going into 2x mode) of iPhone apps on the iPad cripples the app, and oftentimes destroys the seamless app experience that many developers painstakingly designs. From this standpoint, the iPad certainly isn’t Mobile.

2. Usage patterns differ between mobile devices and tablets

I definitely use my iPad in very different locations and situations than I do my iPhone. For me, the iPad is a sedentary device; I use it while sitting down or not running around in general, whereas, for the iPhone, I use it while I’m walking from Point A to B, etc. [In fact, I would describe using an iPad while walking as akin to running with scissors.] Because of this minor change in setting, my usage pattern tends to change quite dramatically between the two devices. I tend to use more Location-Based services while on the iPhone, but I shift to more word-processing, blogging, and reading on the iPad instead.

3. The iPad Fails the Back Pocket Test

When push comes to shove, if I’m running out the door, it’s simply easier to slip the iPhone in my pocket and run instead of trying to find a bag to hold my iPad. This easily makes the iPad less mobile.

So what is Zuckerberg really saying?

Well, he probably isn’t saying much. Facebook will need an iPad specific app at some point, but it’s simply not part of their strategic focus. For them, the tablet is simply an extension of the desktop, and their desktop presence is through the web browser. Mobile is where they need to be, and the iPad simply isn’t part of that. It’s just part of Facebook’s reality.

What do you think? Do you agree with Zuckerberg on this, or do you think he was trying to cover up that there isn’t a Facebook iPad app instead? Let us know…below.

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  • Sean

    I think he’s just trying to cover up the fact that they’ve been complacent in creating an iPad optimized app for Facebook. I for one have been waiting for that since Day 1. Whether the iPad is considered “mobile” or not (I take mine with me *everywhere*), it still deserves to have a Facebook app designed for it. Yes, we can simply use Safari to get to native Facebook on the web, but that’s just not the same as having a dedicated application to make Facebook faster and simpler to use on the device.

  • Im almost afraid for when they release an iPad app because of how bad the iPhone app has always been. I’ve always wanted one. I use FullForce on my iPad to make the iPhone app look pretty good in 2X on the iPad now and it works okay.

  • Aloombox

    Nice excuse for not coming up with an iPad version of FB; let’s blame it on the iPad.
    As for the iPad not being mobile, I disagree! But then again most women don’t have to worry about the back pocket test. For us it’s quite mobile, in fact perfectly so as it lives in our purses! I can’t imagine being anywhere without my iPad. It’s like MC; never leave home without it LOL! I would rather have my iPad with me than my iPhone.

  • Ari

    Back pocket test? Are you insane? I never ever put my phone in my back pocket even before touch screen phones came out. Sitting on your phone will break it unless if it is an el-cheapo flip phone made from plastic or one of those bar shaped phones and then you are going to butt dial as soon as you sit down.

  • Ex


    I’ve only ever used my back pocket when standing or walking for example. Otherwise, my iPhone sits in a jacket pocket or in any front pocket.

  • Aloombox

    Yup! Same sentiments here. I see it all the time, men and women putting their iPhones into back pockets and I cringe! I think an expensive iPhone deserves better treatment.

  • Anonymous

    Mobile means you can call, text and browse with it on the move. Up to date the iPad can only do one of those tasks. iPad falls under portable devices, but not under “mobile devices”. People often make this mistake.There’s a reason why a laptop is a “portable computer” and not a “mobile computer”……….. Everything you need to know about iPad: http://www.aneesoft.com/tutorials/ipad/index.html