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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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