448M new mobile users added in March, 2012, quite an impressive number, however, just over a week from its planned IPO, Facebook has made another amendment to its S-1 filing with the SEC and the concerns gathering around this version? Mobile. How to keep the CEO in hautest hooded coture if the company isn’t seeing any revenue from its mobile users? On the hoodie front, I’m with Shel Israel and others that hoodie-gate is a sideshow (if that) but mobile is a real concern. Here’s what Facebook had to say on the topic this go-round:
“We do not currently directly generate any meaningful revenue from the use of Facebook mobile products, and our ability to do so successfully is unproven… if we are unable to successfully implement monetization strategies for our mobile users, or if we incur excessive expenses in this effort, our financial performance and ability to grow revenue would be negatively affected.”
Stronger language than last time, for sure.
This marks the 6th amendment to the document since we first laid eyes on it in February. What’s changed? Not too much, the mobile strategy of the social giant – such that it is – has plodded along, however, I do believe real change is in store, here’s why:
- The Instagram buy is as valuable in investor confidence as it is rich in talent. I’ll save words here where previous posts will suffice to illustrate my views, however, Facebook need to make a big money move to show the Street it was serious about mobile. In so doing, by moving to buy Instagram, it gathered a team that I’m expecting will show us some interesting things to come in terms of Facebook’s mobile future.
- The media and analysts have been on ‘em about mobile since day 1 of the S-1. They made some comments about mobile being a weaker suit and the market did their job, connected dots and cried foul. We can expect to see Facebook assidously work to burnish its tarnished mobile image leading up to IPO, but in a measured way that shows they have a long view and aren’t panicking. That’s how I read the amended text above.
- There’s much more to come in mobility from Facebook than better apps. I love talking to smart reporters because, what starts out as an interview quickly morphs into a conversation and both sides come away with new ideas. That’s what happened when I spoke wit Venture Beat’s Sean Ludwig back at S-1 time about Facebook mobile. A Facebook phone as part of the mobile strategy? Could be. This won’t be a hardware play a la Google Nexus, however, and will instead be a partnership to advance an also-ran Android handset maker’s build of the OS to make it centrally social and differentiated from its increasingly commoditized peers. Wait for it.
So, concerns on mobile? There are some, and they could have some serious impact on the company’s fortunes, but I don’t expect a company that’s never been afraid to innovate to sit on its laurels and wait out the mobile “bubble.” It’s real, they know it, and expect some big things.