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Zuckerberg: Betting On HTML5 Was Facebook's Biggest Mistake 290

An anonymous reader writes "Speaking yesterday at TechCrunch Disrupt, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that the company's stock performance was disappointing. He also made an interesting remark about Facebook's development efforts over the past couple of years: 'The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native. It just wasn't ready.' According to Mashable, 'the benefits of cross-platform development weren't enough to outweigh the downsides of HTML5, which pulls in data much more slowly than native code, and is much less stable. ... Now, Zuckerberg says, Facebook is focused on continuing to improve the native mobile experience on iOS, as well as bringing a native app to Android.'"
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Zuckerberg: Betting On HTML5 Was Facebook's Biggest Mistake

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  • Correction... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:11AM (#41311075)

    Zuckerberg meant: The IPO Was Facebook's Biggest Mistake.
    There, fixed that for him.

  • Re:Correction... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grantbridge ( 1377621 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:16AM (#41311107)
    Hardly, the IPO was an amazing success for facebook. They managed to sell the company for twice the current market price! Anyone who had facebook shares before the IPO (which is who facebook was doing the IPO for) did rather well out of the deal.
  • by Elminster Aumar ( 2668365 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:19AM (#41311125)
    I wish that guy would take a hike... As for his comment, well, let's see him come up with a markup language standard that appeases every vendor while supporting every aspect of media delivery for users. That's not an easy task. Say what you want about the consortium, but what they did in the amount of time they did it in is rather impressive... These things are done in baby steps--but their efforts delivered more than this. Just because HTML5 might have wrinkles to iron out doesn't mean that it's a failed endeavor. Rather, it means that the browsers, companies behind said browsers, and the users have created a massive cluster of epic proportions. The consortium is just trying to make everything more accessible while accommodating for everyone. Again, not an easy task at all.
  • For Mobile (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlingojones ( 919531 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:19AM (#41311135) Homepage
    Ooooh. What the article MEANS is "betting on HTML5 as a MOBILE strategy instead of writing native SMARTPHONE applications was a mistake." That's much less broad. Also, as HTML5 is still in its infancy and not yet a finished standard, I think it's kind of early to make this statement.
  • by TheSunborn ( 68004 ) < .ta. .rellit.> on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:20AM (#41311139)

    The problem with html5 apps is javascript. That language is just not designed to delopment of huge applications.

  • Re:Correction... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:20AM (#41311141)

    Zuckerberg meant: The IPO Was Facebook's Biggest Mistake.
    There, fixed that for him.

    You meant: The IPO Was Investors Biggest Mistake.
    There, fixed that for you.

  • by radio4fan ( 304271 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:25AM (#41311195)

    If that were really the problem in this case then the Facebook website would have exactly the same issues, and you'd have to download a Facebook client app for desktop use.

    The real problem is that browsers on mobiles still suck.

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <> on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:36AM (#41311285)

    Zuckerberg isn't dumb. This judgement on the whole HTML 5 craze goes to show. Techwise HTML5/CSS3/Ajax is a huge step backwards compared to other approaches, like, for instance, Flash. Flash is proprietary and invites doing all kinds of non-sense (sic), but it *is* a far better x-platform VM.

    Going HTML5 is not to be triffled with and will bog down your systems performance way further than other VM solutions such as Java or Flash/AS. Any web developer worth his salt could have told Zuckerberg that.

    The "problem" (lets just call it that for now) here is that geeks, i.e. opinion leaders, are willing to make huge technological concessions if the technology is more open than the alternatives. Some devs would rather chop their right arm off than develop against (semi)prorietary systems like iOS or countless versions of Android. Hence we've got native looking apps, that are web UIs in disguise, slowpoking about at speeds we know from Windows 95 Applikations back in the day. I presume Zuckerberg got himself talked into this by his devleads, who are, just like any respectable geek, probably way more concerned with system openess and anti-lock-in development wise than with business critical performance and end-user experience issues. That's my guess anyway.

    You can say and think what you want about Zuckerberg and Facebook - I dislike the whole direction thinks have taken with this FB thing just as much as the next geek - but his conclusion is spot on. He's a developer himself and it's to his credit that he recongnises where his company bet on the wrong technology. You have to give him credit for that.

    My 2 cents.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:39AM (#41311313)

    The problem is more complex than that: Mobile devices lack CPU grunt to do things which are easier to do on a desktop systems.
    Because of this the mobile OS builders concentrate what little CPU they do have to make sure their apps run the best as they can at the cost of anything else you may wish to run on top of that. In fact I think they even cripple Javascript on iOS to make sure the OS keeps ticking nicely, for example native scroll events take precendence over Javascript scroll events. I think the main reason that flash was killed in iOS was because it was a closed source CPU hog that they couldn't cripple.

    The only thing that will change this for mobile development is more CPU power, which is difficult if we don't want to have personal hand warmers in our pockets.
    I don't have a problem with JS for application GUI development as long as there is enough juice to run it.

  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:44AM (#41311373)
    The privacy mistakes don't cost them much money.
  • Re:BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nstlgc ( 945418 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @08:46AM (#41311391)
    What you're saying is "I don't need it, so nobody needs it". I hope you know how stupid that sounds.
  • Blame? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theurge14 ( 820596 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @09:05AM (#41311549)

    Facebook is a webpage, not a 3D game that pushes the hardware. Is it possible he is blaming the technology for the failure of his coders? After all, we're talking about an app that when you viewed the comments on a photo you had to back out and come back several times in order for it to "refresh". Or sometimes clicking on a friend's name would take you to an entirely unrelated part of the app. And photos would take ages to load. Sometimes entering in a comment would work, sometimes it would say "you can't comment on something that doesn't exist" even though you could open up Facebook on a desktop computer and make a comment in the same place without a problem. I don't know of any other "webpage" app on the iPhone that performed that poorly, and granted I don't know what the Google+ app used but in comparison it blew the doors off of the Facebook app. Was it really the technology to blame?

  • Re:Correction... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @09:10AM (#41311581) Homepage Journal

    Unless a company can continuously outgrow the investors' increasing demands, it will, in the end, get the short stick.

    So far practically everything on the web has been supplanted by something else. What's really and truly long-running, and in the No.1 spot? Has any of it occupied that spot since the beginning? The internet archive is still the first archive, but where is Hotbot? Where is IUMA? Who cares about Myspace? Are people still using Microsoft for email? Etc. (Lycos, Internet Archive, Apparently some musicians still, and only Microsofties, respectively... they're rhetorical questions you bastards.)

  • HTML5 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interval1066 ( 668936 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @09:27AM (#41311721) Homepage Journal
    So that's it? Snotty but successfull kid declares html5 a toss and that's it? I've noticed a few other people making comments that they're disappointed by html5. Its a bit early to make that determination yet I think.
  • Well next time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anarchduke ( 1551707 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @09:27AM (#41311727)
    Do your homework and your HTML5 implementation wont suck.
  • Re:Correction... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @09:28AM (#41311731)

    Sorry Apple has growth, billions in free cash flow, lots of cash on hand, significant IP and real property, and multiple income streams, both hardware, software, services and media/content and a so far very loyal userbase.

    Facebook has some cash flow financed by ads and market research, and shrinking usage in their primary markets.

  • Re:Correction... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jack9 ( 11421 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @09:38AM (#41311817)

    > Apple is a far far far larger bubble than Facebook.

    Apple's net revenue doesn't match the sharp downward slope, that Facebook kept under wraps, until Facebook's IPO. Apple is not a bubble by the simple fact that there's almost no speculation involved. People who own an iPod will get the next iPod etc. Apple's income is not dependent on leveraging potential advertising monetization (read: we'll figure it out later). Google's income is derived from potential advertising profits, with a great track record, in stark contrast to Facebook's published metrics and inability to come up with a working profit model.

  • Re:Correction... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kelemvor4 ( 1980226 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @09:39AM (#41311819)

    "The guy knows what he's doing".


    If he knew what he was doing, he wouldn't still be about a sinking ship.

    Let's see.. The guy made billions on the deal, and simultaneously kept control of his company. You somehow have a superior knowledge on the subject and know better. How exactly does that work? If anyone didn't know what they were doing it would be the investors who bought the overpriced shares. Zuckerberg, on the other hand can laugh all the way to the bank - or wherever else he might want to go. Because that's the sort of thing you can do when you're a multi billionaire. Cocksucker might be a good description if you ask the other shareholders, but I don't think the incompetence you're pretending he has is really there.

  • Re:Correction... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @10:29AM (#41312225)

    Google dominating for what, 8 years now?

    Our young geeks may NOT remember a time before Google, but there was a time where the "hot" search engine changed every two years, and there were new engines launching all the time.

    The Wild West phase of the Internet is over, but we're still on the frontier.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.