Facebook co-founder urges open approach to mobile Web development

RIM announces support for Facebook on BlackBerry

Dustin Moskovitz took center stage at the CTIA conference in San Francisco and marveled at how Facebook, which he co-founded only four years ago, has grown to 49 million active online users.

"Four years ago, I was in a dorm room," he said with a boyish smile.

Moskovitz focused on not only Facebook's PC-based growth, but the more recent growth of mobile Facebook applications, for which there are 4 million active users.

As a sign of continuing growth, he invited Mike Lazaridis, founder of Research in Motion Ltd., to join him onstage for the announcement that RIM launched Facebook for BlackBerry smart phones. T-Mobile USA is the first carrier to provide the new software application to its customers, Moskovitz said, but any mobile user with any carrier can download the application.

The combination of the hip, mostly consumer Facebook with the enterprise-centered RIM underscored Moskovitz's point that a social Web site can draw all kinds of people, including teenagers and workers of all ages.

"Mobile is the next frontier," Moskovitz said, appealing to members in the audience to support open platforms such as the Facebook Platform, and to develop applications for it.

Mobile capabilities have been used to allow a person to visit a party, use a mobile phone camera to snap a photo that will appear on the user's Facebook personal page, with comments by his friends when he returns to his PC, Moskovitz said.

Using text messaging on a phone, a user at a street demonstration can show an affiliation with a religious or social cause such as "Save Darfur" and have that sympathy reflected on a mobile profile, and them receive news stories on the issue, he added.

"This technology becomes a powerful way to raise the visibility of these [social] issues," he said.

Stressing that RIM and Facebook both benefited from having two open platforms, Moskovitz urged companies and their mobile application developers to visit the Facebook Web site to learn about developing in Facebook Platform.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld

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