independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Facebook to unveil mystery product

Facebook is set to unveil a mystery product that has something to do with Google's Android operating system for mobile devices, a move that coincides with rapid growth among the number of users who access the social network from smartphones and tablet computers.

The company hasn't said what it plans to reveal during the event at its Menlo Park, California, headquarters, today, but speculation has centred on a mobile phone made by HTC Corp.

According to media reports, the phone would deeply integrate Facebook into the Android operating system, aiding Facebook in its aim to evolve from its web-based roots into a "mobile-first" company.

"What Facebook wants is to put itself at the front of the Android user experience for as many Facebook users as possible and make Facebook more elemental to their customers' experience," said Forrester analyst Charles Golvin.

The move could help to attract more mobile advertisers. Though mobile ads were a big concern for Facebook's investors even before the company's initial public offering last May, some of the worry has subsided as the company muscles its way into the market.

Last year, Facebook began showing ads to its mobile audience by shoehorning corporate-sponsored content into users' news feeds, which also include updates from friends and brands they follow. Facebook now faces the challenge of showing people mobile ads without annoying or alienating them.

The mobile advertising market is growing quickly, thanks in large part to Facebook and Twitter, which also entered the space in 2012. Research firm eMarketer expects US mobile ad spending to grow 77 % this year to 7.29 billion dollars (£4.8 billion), from 4.11 billion dollars (£2.71 billion) last year.

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