Breaking 38 or How the Mobile Phone Saved Facebook

Every publically traded company has a target. Since its IPO, that number has been 38 for Facebook. The company finally realized its goal last week, thanks to the mobile phone.

Facebook saw that its users were choosing to pick up their phones rather than sit down in front of a screen – in numbers that no one could have predicted. Facebook knew enough to follow its customers, but was smart about diving into this “new” medium. The social media company spent a great deal of time redesigning its mobile app’s interface and ensuring content relevancy to create a “non-intrusive” ad experience.

Read: JUMPing at Change: Thoughts About T-Mobile’s New Program

That work paid off. Last week Facebook reported that of the $1.6 billion it generated from ad sales, 41% came from mobile advertising. The most remarkable part of that announcement is the fact that the company had NO revenue from that channel before Q3 of 2012.

Facebook didn’t stop there. To gain more “mobile real estate,” the company launched Facebook Home. This app transforms a phone’s home screen into a Facebook interface. The company is working with device manufacturers and mobile operators to push this solution worldwide. And, Facebook spent $1 billion acquiring Instagram, the beloved social app of the young and hip, knowing that the next generation may not want to socialize all day on the same site their parents prefer.

Read: User Experience in the BYOD Era

There is no doubt that consumer behaviors are changing daily and the mobile shift is growing. A Business Insider report issued in July shows that 50% of Facebook traffic now comes from mobile accounts (for Instagram it is 99%). In fact, Cisco reported that 2011’s mobile data traffic was nearly twelve times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000. Clearly, strategically capitalizing on these evolving trends has paid off for Facebook.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer was quoted as saying, “We are investing in mobile, measurement and product innovation. The results we’re reporting demonstrate the early returns on these investments.”

With that kind of focus, it will be interesting to see what they announce next.

What do you think of Facebook’s bold move to focus on mobile? Let me know in the comments below.

Looking for more information on the key steps mobile operators must take to assure customer experience? Check out this educational demo.

Written by Gretchen Clarke – Gretchen on Twitter | Posts by Gretchen
Gretchen has been writing on the key trends in the communications industry since the birth of the open standards movement. She provides a deep understanding of mobile, networking and UC technologies and how they benefit service providers, business and the consumers they serve.