Facebook's mobile event - notable but underwhelming

Facebook borrowed the media event complete with invitation page from Apple's playbook, but didn't quite pull it off.

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It's become common for tech and Internet companies to create buzz about announcements by sending cleverly designed notices to members of the media inviting them to attend an event. Apple does this more than any other company and undoubtedly the champion of generating a buzz around the announcement itself as well as whatever products and/or services are being announced.


Facebook tried to use this approach for the mobile announcement event it held yesterday. They succeeded in creating a buzz (particularly amid rumors that Facebook was developing its own mobile phone brand, which turned out not to be the case). I'm just as sure that they succeeded with capitalizing on that buzz with a major announcement.

Don't get me wrong, I think Facebook has a lot invested in delivering mobile services. With so much of the world moving towards ever increasing use of mobile and location services in smartphones and tablets (though Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the iPad as "not mobile" at the event – which is somewhat baffling), there's a lot of room for Facebook to integrate its features and deliver highly specialized information and promotions.

That said, however, yesterday's event was a bit of a let-down (like being a kid and wanting the cool must-have present for Christmas but getting a bunch of sweaters instead).

Making location-based access to reviews of restaurants and other businesses more seamless regardless of which service is providing the information is a good feature. The same can be said about the new Deals which makes it easier to get deals based on your location, your friends, and all your combined check-ins. Combined, they offer a real reason to use Facebook's Places feature (something that was pretty lackluster when it launched). I'm personally not sure it's compelling enough for me to use, particularly given Facebook's privacy record, but I can see it being appealing to a large number of people.

Perhaps more noteworthy was the single signon feature the company also announced. If you do use Facebook a lot on the go as well as its integration with other sites via Facebook Connect, this will make your life easier. It may be a concern if you lose your phone, but that can be said of any site or app that requires a login on a smartphone including your email account(s).

As great as those announcement were (and I think they both offer a lot of potential for Facebook as a company, other businesses, and users), making the announcements without trying to create a giant buzz beforehand might have been a better way to go. Without increasing expectations, these probably would've sounded bigger than they did.

Ryan Faas writes about personal technology for ITworld. Learn more about Faas' published works and training and consulting services at www.ryanfaas.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanfaas.

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