will Facebook strike gold with a new community group?

Facebook is working with mobile operators to make phone-based payments easier and has launched an effort to standardize HTML5 to help developers write applications for more mobile handsets, its chief technology officer announced on Monday (27 February) at Mobile World Congress.

After the talk, Orange announced that it is working with Facebook and other industry leaders on initiatives to “create new and compelling mobile web applications and experiences for our customers”. The development could eventually help to make the mobile web become a fusion of the physical world and the digital world, changing the way consumers and enterprises engage with social media.

creation of a community group

Orange is joining the newly created W3C Core Mobile Web Platform Community Group.

The Community Group's goal is to accelerate the adoption of the Mobile Web as a compelling platform for the development of modern mobile web applications.

It will bring developers, equipment manufacturers, browser vendors, operators and other relevant members of the industry together to agree on core features developers can depend on. They can also create related conformance test suites and provide to W3C (and non-W3C) groups use cases, scenarios, and other input related to enabling successful mobile web app development.

Announcing the news on the Facebook blog, Douglas Purdy, director of developer relations, acknowledged that the mobile web was underutilised. “We hear from developers that there are three challenge areas that make it hard to build on the mobile web: app discovery, mobile browser fragmentation and payments,” he wrote.

Such cooperation from within the Community Group has the potential to radically change these barriers and enable users to take control of their digital lives (albeit without Apple on board).

mobile economy benefits

The GSMA recently announced new research findings that demonstrate the positive, long-term economic impact of the global mobile industry.

The research, developed by A.T. Kearney, GSMA Wireless Intelligence and Machina Research, indicates that global mobile industry revenues will grow from US$1.5 trillion dollars in 2011 to US$1.9 trillion in 2015. It will go on to invest US$793 billion in capital and contribute US$2.7 trillion to public funding across the globe in the same period.

The data also predicts significant growth in mobile industry employment; today, more than 8 million people around the world are employed by companies in the mobile ecosystem, and by the end of 2015, mobile industry jobs will grow to approximately 10 million.

Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA, says: "The mobile communications industry is creating a "Connected Economy" across the globe, through network investment, job creation and contributions to public funding. Mobile is transforming adjacent industries, such as education, healthcare, payments and transactions, transportation and utilities. Mobile is connecting the world as no other technology has before."

If the Community Group works well together, it could well change the very nature of how mobiles are used by ordinary consumers and businesses alike. Social media could become an everyday lifestyle transaction all from the palm of one’s hands.

a new mobile payment mechanism?

Orange is also working closely with Facebook to implement a seamless billing option for its customers, and says that it is committed to making mobile payments as easy as possible for web applications.

Xavier Perret, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Orange, claims that "there is boundless potential in what developers can achieve with mobile web applications, and the new mobile experiences that can be created…we are helping to accelerate the development of the mobile web, creating new and exciting services for our customers."

Much has been made of how f-commerce is yet to work for Facebook, but this mobile development may well change habits and bring the physical and the digital closer together.

Do you think it’s possible that Facebook is finally getting mobile right?

Nicolas Jacquey
Joe Fernandez

Joe Fernandez is a technology writer and blogger for Futurity Media. As a journalist, he was an editor on Computer Weekly and Microscope magazines and worked as a deputy editor for Marketing Week and its sister title Pitch covering online marketing and social media developments. Joe has also appeared in titles including New Media Age, Guardian Computing, Computing Magazine, The Inquirer and Mobile Magazine.