Facebook Focuses on Mobile Web Initiatives

Brett Taylor, CTO of Facebook, today announced the company is participating in “a number of industry wide initiatives” intended to support the development of the mobile web, focusing on technology standards and payment enabling.

“Despite the incredible amount of work we have to do to make the mobile web great, I am extremely optimistic. In all of my years in the industry, I haven’t seen such a coordinated effort across so many segments of our industry. These are hard problems, but they are solvable problems, and we are going to solve them together,” the executive told Congress yesterday.

While HTML5 has been widely proposed as a way of addressing fragmentation in the industry, Taylor noted that “if you look at 100 different devices, you’ll find 100 different versions.”

In order to eliminate this, the company is working with “over 30” device makers, operators and developers through a W3C community group called Core Mobile Web Platform, with the intention to “author and evangelise and prioritise” the development of HTML5 mobile web standards.

Companies supporting this initiative include Samsung, HTC, Sony, Nokia, AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, Orange, Telefonica, KDDI and Softbank.

Accompanying this, Facebook also highlighted Ringmark, a testing suite intended to monitor how devices comply with the new HTML5 standards. “We are pragmatic. We know that standards are only as good as their implementations in the field,” he said.

With regard to payments, the Facebook executive said that “right now, the payments experience of the mobile web is just broken.” He noted that even with operator billing support, today’s implementations require SMS device verification, which takes users outside of the normal flow of an app, while developers have to integrate with “hundreds of APIs” to support operators globally.

To this end, the company announced a partnership with “operators around the world to improve both the user and the developer experience of operator billing.” This work will remove the need for the SMS verification step for the “vast majority” of customers, while providing developers with a single SDK to get global reach with “very, very simple” technical verification.

“That way, payments on the mobile web can be what it should be – a single step to confirm the purchase,” he concluded. Operators working with Facebook on streamlined billing are AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefónica, T-Mobile USA, Verizon, Vodafone, KDDI and Softbank.

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