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Facebook and your mobile life

Molly Wood May 21, 2012

It’s the first week of a whole new world at Facebook. The social media site is now a public company. Now the pressure is on to make money for its shareholders, which could mean big changes for the way we use Facebook on our cellphones.

Tom Krazit writes for GigaOM. He says, “900 million people have Facebook accounts, and around half of them log into Facebook from a mobile device on a regular basis. The problem for Facebook is they don’t really serve ads through the mobile interface.”

Facebook, like a lot of other companies, is having a hard time figuring out how to show us ads, on those tiny little screens, without turning us off. Krazit says there’s another way Facebook could make money using mobile.

Krazit: If you’ve played a game on Facebook, you know one of the Zynga games or something like that, and you wanted to purchase things within the game, you know, virtual goods or something like that, you have to do that through Facebook credits, which is essentially their own currency. If they were to extend that to the mobile platform, they could presumably get into things like mobile payments, allowing you to pay from your Facebook app or your Facebook phone through the Facebook credit system, you know, they would obviously get a cut off of those transactions, and you know could cut deals with other companies to promote the use of Facebook credits.

And while Facebook is mulling its options, the cost of using your phone to play on Facebook could be changing too.

AT&T and Verizon have both said they are coming out with shared data plans. Verizon’s plan, at least, could be available as soon as this summer.

Ina Fried is senior editor for All Things D. She says, “Think of it the same way that we have family plans for voice. You might share a pool of minutes across three or four family members. This lets you share a data plan, a pot of gigabytes or megabytes across several devices. So, maybe two people’s cell phones or a phone and a tablet, that sort of things.” Whether it’ll cost you more or less, all depends on what kind of customer you are now.

Fried: For the person that today has both a phone and a tablet using data, it could actually mean lower bills, but actually very few people have opted for these tablets with data built in, so, the typical customer might have an iPhone and an iPad, but they’ve gone for the Wi-Fi only model, and tomorrow, they might choose to do things differently if they have the option of using a shared data plan.

Of course, more devices with data plans is exactly what the cell phone companies want. Fried says, “The carriers themselves that are looking to sell more data. This should be a way ultimately to allow them to do that.”


Giddy up. On the Robot Roundup: Robots are helping paralyzed stroke victims drink on their own. A woman, using only her mind, was able to instruct a robotic arm to grab a cup of coffee and move it toward her mouth. She drank on her own for the first time in 15 years. Nice work robot!

Robots are swimming, or at least floating, and tracking water flow while they’re at it. Researchers at UC Berkeley released 100 robots into the Sacramento River. The swarming water robots could be used during an oil spill to track where contamination might go.

And, robots are climbing clothes. Yup, the clothbot, developed by Chinese researchers, can scale your jeans and scramble up your T-shirt. It does it by making a wrinkle on your clothes and climbing on up. So if you want to keep the robots off, you might want to wear shorts.

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