Will Facebook opt for its own operating system?


Social networking is set to become a predominantly mobile
activity across the world. The number of people accessing social networks from
mobile phones will exceed 550 million in 2011. The number of mobile users
accessing social networks is likely to more than triple to over 1.7 billion by
the end of 2016.


Since over two-thirds of the global user base of social
networks will use smartphones and other mobile handsets to access the services,
it will be a big opportunity for social media major Facebook.


For Facebook, the growing importance of mobile is also a
serious strategic challenge. Mobile allows the world’s leading social network
to engage with millions of new consumers. But its ability to make money from
mobile users remains untested.


A huge problem for Facebook is that while on the web it
is a platform, on mobile it’s just another application. To strengthen its hand
in the short term we expect Facebook to aggressively take advantage of HTML5,
but in the longer term it should absolutely become a mobile operating system of
its own,” said Aapo Markkanen, senior analyst, ABI Research.


Android is leading the OS market with 43.4 percent marketshare in Q2 2011. The
nearest competitor is Symbian with 22.1 percent, Apple iOS 18.2 percent and
Research in Motion with 11.7 percent. If Facebook opts for its own OS, it will
challenge the market leaders.


The symbiosis of social networks and mobile phones can
also be seen in recent moves by Google and Apple. Google’s attempt at social
networking, Google+, has been designed to benefit from deep integration with
Android, which is likely to go down well with application developers.
Meanwhile, Apple has teamed up with Twitter and built the microblogging service
into the iOS 5.


The interesting aspect in Apple’s and Twitter’s
partnership is how it can provide iPhone users with a verifiable social
identity for websites and apps. That gives developers a lot of scope to
innovate in areas such as authentication, personalization and advertising. It’s
a hint of things to come,” said Dan Shey, practice director, ABI Research.


Last year,
smart phone major HTC announced that it would be studying whether to equip
phones with its own operating system, a move that may intensify competition
with Google and Microsoft.


HTC’s own operating system would enable the company,
which designs and produces phones using Google and Microsoft software, to
reduce its reliance on outside developers. Apple and Research in Motion are
successful because they have their own OS platform.


a mobile platform provider, announced that today’s fragmented mobile landscape
is directly affecting many organizations’ mobile plans, with 40 percent of
Fortune 500 companies stating that developing applications across multiple
operating systems and devices is the biggest challenge to their mobile


Other top challenges ranked by corporations include
keeping up with changes in the mobile market (27 percent) and supporting
connectivity and technology challenges/updates (20 percent).


These findings come from the second annual Mobile
Marketing and Commerce Study commissioned by. The study surveyed Fortune 500
corporations to uncover valuable information relating to their mobile computing
challenges and strategic initiatives.


By Baburajan K
[email protected]