Zuckerberg pledges mobile future

Mark Zuckerberg says he’s not at all happy about Facebook’s share price, but believes the company’s got a big future in the mobile arena.

Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference yesterday, in his first public appearance since the company’s IPO in May, he described the near-halving of the stock value since then as ‘disappointing’.

But, he added, “Over the next three to five years, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is really going to be how well Facebook does with mobile.”

One thing the company won’t be doing, he said, is launching its own phone – something that’s been widely rumored for quite some time.

“If we make a phone we could get, maybe, ten million users? Twelve million users? That doesn’t move the needle for us. Building a phone is the wrong strategy for us,” he said.

Instead, he added, the company wants to “build a system that is as deeply as possible integrated into every major device that people want to use.”

Already, he says, mobile ads are starting to perform better than desktop ones, and the company’s building new ways to monetize mobile usage. That’s a big change since May, when the company’s IPO prospectus admitted that it it didn’t generate ‘meaningful revenue’ from mobile.

Zuckerberg talked about what he described as the company’s biggest-ever mistake: betting the farm on HTML 5 apps, rather than natively-written ones. After ten months of intense effort, the company gave up a year ago, concluding that such apps could never be as sophisticated as native ones.

He also hinted at the launch of a search engine. “Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer a lot of questions that people have,” he said. “What sushi restaurants have my friends been to in the past six months, and liked?”