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back to article HTML5 isn't Facebook's 'biggest mistake'

Everybody makes mistakes, but if you're Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, mistakes can shave 50 per cent off your market valuation in a matter of weeks. Happily, admitting Zuckerberg-sized mistakes apparently is also worth a 7.9 per cent bounce. Zuckerberg's biggest mistake, as he described in an interview at the Disrupt …

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Anonymous Coward

Hardly a Ratner is it. Although it is good that he's finally admitted his mobile apps are "total crap" like Mr Ratner did.

Their biggest problem is they're now just running a company for shareholders.

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FAIL

Its not finished!

That is the problem! HTML V5 is frankly alpha quality at best at this stage, it can't even take the place of flash yet (videos yes, barely as its CPU hogging is bad, but the games and apps? Nope) yet everyone is trying to push this out to replace native? Give me a break.

I'm sure that HTML V5 in the future will be very nice, but right now its in the Win95 stage. its buggy, crashy, doesn't run very well on low power devices, and there is a LOT of work to be done!

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Silver badge

" ... the IPO debacle."

For FB, the IPO certainly wasn't a "debacle" - unless they're forced to reimburse the people who did make a mistake and paid too much for the over-valued shares.

Even the "HTML5 mistake" isn't a showstopper. The crucial point about mistakes is not their making, but how soon you identify a cockup and how quickly you fix it. I've worked in organisations where everyone was frozen into inaction for fear of getting something wrong - nothing ever got done.

The only real mistake in the high-tech world is a repeated mistake, although shagging the MD's spouse might be a close second.

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The Worst Thing

...about most HTML5 apps I see is they all seem to ape the iPhone interface. It looks pretty crap on Android and other non-IOS platforms.

Still, I guess it's not as bad as when they make their *native* apps on non-IOS platforms look like iPhones. I'm looking at you, LinkedIn...

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iOS limitations

On iOS there's a constraint on using HTML in apps. Specifically, if your app uses the UIWebView control (an embedded web browser), then the Javascript engine is about six times slower than if your app just runs in iOS Safari. This alone could account for much of Facebook's horrendous performance on iOS. (Caveat: I haven't tried it on Android.)

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Re: iOS limitations

That feels like an unlikely theory. The new Javascript engine, available only in Safari, arrived in iOS 4.3. The old engine was shared by both Safari and standard web views prior to that, including when Facebook launched. Therefore it launched when there was no difference between in-app and mobile Javascript interpreters; whatever performance people got when browsing the web anywhere on the device was available to Facebook.

El Reg reported the difference as two times, by the way — http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/15/apple_ios_throttles_web_apps_on_home_screen/page2.html — though I guess the difference will likely have grown since then as Apple optimise the one while ignoring the other.

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Anonymous Coward

Facebook Android app = Fail

"One of the things that's interesting is we actually have more people on a daily basis using mobile web Facebook than we have using our iOS or Android apps combined"

Yes, there's a good reason for that, at least in the case of the Android app - it is jaw-droppingly awful. The mobile web version is not particularly good, but unlike to the Android app it's possible to use it without it crashing all the time. Facebook's problems with the mobile platform aren't just to do with HTML5 or their difficulties generating ad revenue from mobile, they start with the fact that an 18 year old working in his bedroom can produce better apps than they can. Switching focus from HTML5 to mobile apps is just jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. As numerous industry worthies have already pointed out, their incompetence in the mobile arena is a severe threat to their continued existence.

Go to https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.facebook.katana&hl=en and read the reviews...

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FAIL

Re: Facebook Android app = Fail - iOS too!

The iOS app is just as bad! It crashes frequently, refuses to display anything, gets the notification and message icons wrong etc etc... I have ended up using the mobile website as my main access point, I relegated the app to the back pages of my home screen and only have it for push notifcations when I get a message.

This works much better, but the mobile website has a nasty habit of cutting off any text you enter. For example when writing a status or a comment it will cut off all but the first few words. So neither is perfect!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Facebook Android app = Fail - iOS too!

Anecdotal, but uploads to Facebook via the Android app were down for us (we have various Android cells floating around the house) for more than a month this summer. We'd upload things, and even when they completed they'd never show up from Android.

During that period we never had that problem with the iPad and iPod Touch though... from the same network.

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The ironic part about his "HTML5 is too slow" attitude is that his native apps are pretty damned sluggish.

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True, but the vital information that you're missing unfortunately is that the native apps used HTML5.

The Android one still does but the new IOS one has been switched to native code.

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Trollface

As one Facebook contact (who may be the world's closest approximation to Super Mario in appearance) told me

Matt Assay is Facebook-friends with Ron Jeremy.

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Anonymous Coward

So?

I went to college with Ron Howard: not the actor/director but the drug dealer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So?

" Ron Howard"? that's great, what about Ron Jeremy (you know, the pornstar who looks like SuperMario /and/ who's good with lady plumbing)?

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This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge

Re: So?

Yep, that's the fella.

(Link is SFW but still terrifying).

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Anonymous Coward

"mistakes can shave 50 per cent off your market valuation in a matter of weeks"

so can being hugely over-valued at IPO

that's the more likely explanation

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Stop

Last time

I made the grave mistake of using the Facebook Android program (the same with Twitter) and discovered all my Facebook contacts were munged in with my phonebook contacts automatically, without prompting, with no way to undo. I knew I should have just trusted my instinct and stuck to the mobile web versions. Never again.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Last time

You can undo them, you have to go into Settings -> Accounts & sync and uncheck them, and to also check in the FB App, under Account -> App settings.

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Re: Last time

Tried that. Even now when I backup/export my phone contacts the resulting vcard file is 2MB containing ~1000 entries whereas my old phone book had ~120 entries.

I'd prefer to be asked before any destructive editing of my user data. Even if some developers somewhere have decided it's in my best interest to merge them.

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One reason people use the mobile web site instead of apps

Has Zuckerberg ever used the Facebook app on Android? The comments section are rife with complaints of bugs. It's also a 11MB of bloat for something which is a glorified RSS feed reader /. My own peeve is the software wants to know my location via GPS every time I use it which is incredibly intrusive and kills battery performance. It also lingers in the background as a service doing "stuff".

I'd completely uninstall Facebook if I could but HTC in their wisdom baked a copy into the firmware of the device so I can't get rid of it, just uninstall all the updates that make it more intrusive.

Perhaps people use the mobile site for all these reasons and more.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: One reason people use the mobile web site instead of apps

Settings -> Apps -> All, Uninstall updates then Disable. Apart from still occupying space, it will be as good as gone.

And it's now 20Mb not 11Mb...

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Re: One reason people use the mobile web site instead of apps

Anonymous Coward is right if you're running an ICS or higher build of Android on your HTC.

If it is Gingerbread, then unfortunately the "Disable" part won't be there and you'll be annoyingly prompted to install Facebook app updates all the time.

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FAIL

I'm not convinced by all the talk that Facebook lacks deep mobile experience. Learning how to code for Android is straightforward if you've got a Java background. The iPhone is a bit more tricky, simply because you need to learn Objective C.

If you hire decent, experienced developers and are willing to invest a bit of time in nurturing and training them, then there's no reason why Facebook couldn't have been as good as any other shop within six months. They wouldn't even need a particularly big team either, as their app isn't that complex.

My guess is that it probably comes down to project management, and perhaps poor design and implementation of the app. The article makes it sound as though there was in-fighting between teams. Facebook's "Hack" culture could also be at odds with the sort of boring old software engineering practices that get things done too.

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really?

"...and are willing to invest a bit of time in nurturing and training them,..."

Doesn't this mean that they'd already have to know how to do it? Or did I misread something?

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Objective-C is Java's primary influence (source: http://cs.gmu.edu/~sean/stuff/java-objc.html); while the syntax is reasonably different, switching from the one to the other isn't very tricky because the design patterns are generally very similar.

In six months I'd expect you could hire a Java developer and get him or her to learn Objective-C and write a pretty good iOS app, or vice versa.

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FAIL

Bullshit

Facebook shares dropped because the company has hardly any revenue for the price they were asking. Only mugs need apply for the 7.9% bounce.

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HTML5 is actually a mistake

I am actually agree that HTML5 is a mistake.

It is unproperly designed as a top-most replacement for native UI scripts in the applications, or as sort of replacement of high productive enterprise oriented addons like Flash and Java applets.

This is A MISTAKE with UNIVERSE HUDGE PROPORTIONS.

HTML5 had to be a next level HTML expansion, which opens more possibilities, but not shuting down them.

This was a misslead of Apple, which rised their market shares on top of a false states against Flash - nothing more. And in order to turn theese lies into truth - they became "investitors" in HTML5 - changing it's primary proposes.

Now - as result we have one low performing, low productive, platform API depending language, which not only making the WEB more closes, but aswell making it more paid.

IT IS NONE OF IT'S PRIMARY IDEA ACHIEVED.

I think Facebook is worth actually each cent of theese 100 bilions $ target, since it is THE platform which uniting a whole nations and creating the true globalisation possible.

And limiting all theese things because there is som "defenders" of this still-in-developement "things" called HTML5 - i think it is UNPROPER.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: HTML5 is actually a mistake

Actually there are many things for which HTML is perfectly fine - an online banking app, for example, gains absolutely nothing from being native, apart from a load of deployment headaches

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Headmaster

Re: HTML5 is actually a mistake

English, motherf*cker, do you speak it?

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Coat

Re: HTML5 is actually a mistake

MInE is tHe oNE WitH The booK ON ProPeR raNDom CApITALiZatiOn

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Re: HTML5 is actually a mistake

Good grief! Do you actually talk like that?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UNIVERSE HUDGE PROPORTIONS

Actually, as one reads on, it has a certain charm, a certain flow. Whether it could ever achieve as much as LOL CAT language, I doubt, but it might well find some investitors.

One for Bootnotes. Upvoted for all the wrong reasons.

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Anonymous Coward

Not just FB suckered into this shit

Someone must have been going around a few years ago persuading people that this embedded web app stuff was a great idea.

Back in ancient history when people used Nokia Social and Nokia Store clients and complained they were slow and clunky, this was because they were written in massively complex and really rather brilliant (from a viewpoint of making it work at all..) HTML+JS, run inside a web app framework. They were written in this framework because management decreed that they would be 'portable' and wouldn't have to be rewritten for Symbian, Maemo and S40 platforms, so saving us all a lot of time and effort. Apparently.

In reality, all you do is trade development time for debug and optimisation time on each platform as no two browsers do things the same, even if you're lucky enough to only have one engine to target and not 3.

Things only started to improve in those apps once the web apps evangelists shut up and native apps began to be forthcoming. I expect Facebook apps to improve a lot once they become native clients of their FB JS API.

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Flame

HTML5 is a whore

And everybody can do to it whatever they want, kick it around like a can, no direction, no ownership. Apple being the prime example of killing the HTML5. After years of bashing Flash and kicking it out of existence, with HTML5 as an excuse, they are now equally trying to stop the development of HTML5. iOS Safari for example blocks the use of multiple sounds at the same time, and only restricts sounds on user interactions, so... no games outside of the app store. Thanks for improving the state of Web multimedia, it worked out great!

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HTML 5 is the final Apple frontier.

As the song says "We don't need no education , we don't need Apple's HTML control."

Yes, the open web has lost yet another brick in the wall.

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Anonymous Coward

Device Limitations

As I pointed out in a comment on another article yesterday, the problem is that people are using HTML5 regardless of whether or not people have the devices and software which run it 'correctly'. I say 'correctly' in quotes because it is of course an unfinished standard which realistically isn't ready for production use.

The problem as I see it is that more and more people want things running on mobile devices. The fact that these devices have MASSIVE LIMITATIONS compared to traditional computing environments, e.g. desktop or laptop computers, for doing the same tasks, is also being ignored. At the same time developers are thinking 'ooh these mobile devices are new so HTML5 is the way to go'.

There is so much that is wrong about people's expectations in the sense of having a web application or service that runs in EXACTLY the same way on different devices and the way things are implemented that I could write a book on it.

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Anonymous Coward

Because it just wasn't there.

Speaking in sentences? Necessary for managers?

Oh well, more money than me.

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where they screwed up?

Not respecting their users.

Whether it's true that Zuckerburg once called facebook users 'schmucks' or not, there's got to be some element of that attitude going.

The problem with facebook is many fold, but two key factors of where they went wrong are:

1. Incorrect balance between ad revenue and user experience

2. Moving the developer goal posts with seeming abandon

As a developer, it's point 2 which grinds me. I've had - against my wishes - to develop numerous facebook 'apps' over the years and each time it's a horrible learning curve with hundreds of dead ends where features have changed, been dropped, gone undocumented or are downright buggy.

What worked a month ago, no longer works.

Point 2. is probably the single biggest flaw of facebook, as it wastes countless hours of development time and ends up with a sub-standard hacks experience.

Point 1. - well, who knows how true it is, all I can say, is that using facebook these days is like watching hundreds of shitty adverts back to back - so much damn noise, so little signal.

Besides, the value of facebook was always a ridiculous guessing game, as has been adequately proven.

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A Utopia Wept

Social acceptance puts massive constraints on personal freedom. In the perfect consumerist society, everyone has a Facebook account, 200 friends, and they all share ideas on what to buy. By the time you widen your social circle as far as 200 people, all chance of individual freedom is lost. To be acceptable to all these people now you must have a very narrow set of safe behaviors and stick to them religiously. This kind of society leads to grim totalitarian thinking, and in the field of totalitarians, shit rises inexorably to the top.

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Gimp

Re: A Utopia Wept

Methinks you underestimate the range of the human experience. I have found that far from homogenizing people, social media lets people whose ideas differ vastly from the social norm find one another--sometimes for ill, often for good. I, for example, am blissfully unbounded by the need for social acceptance, but somehow I still manage to use social media just fine.

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