Facebook Is Making Lots of Mobile Developer Friends

While developers have traditionally had a love-hate relationship with Facebook over the years, a new survey suggest that at least for the moment, developers want to be friends with Facebook more than ever.

A survey of 6,698 mobile developers conducted by International Data Corp. on behalf of Appcelerator, a provider of tools for building mobile computing applications, finds that 66 percent of developers are connecting mobile applications to Facebook. The next closest social computing Platform is Twitter with 52.7 percent. After that the next closest is Google+ with 35.7 percent, followed by LinkedIn with 23.7 percent.

According to Michael King, director of enterprise strategy for Appcelerator, the survey suggests that Facebook is starting to achieve some critical mass in terms of support from developers of mobile computing applications. In fact, King says that it would not at all be surprising within the next two years for more traffic to be generated on Facebook via its APIs than end users coming in over HTTP. While smaller Web sites have already crossed that threshold such an event for Facebook would represent a coming of age of the API economy.

King says the fondness for Facebook goes well beyond simply leveraging the Facebook API to authenticate users. In fact, the survey found that 38.8 percent were still authenticating users over traditional Web protocols, compared to 21 percent of SAML or OAuth and 19.1 percent for social media services such as Facebook.

Instead, King credits Facebook’s decision to invest in technologies such as Open Graph and the acquisition of Parse through which Facebook is make available a platform for building mobile applications. In addition, King notes Facebook seems to have picked up some credibility among mobile developers after opting to support native mobile applications rather than solely focusing on HTML5.

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Most interestingly, the social networking giant has acquired a lot of mobile analytics capabilities via its acquisition of Onavo, King says. As those capabilities get applied to all the data that is being accessed by a third-party mobile computing applications, King says it’s clear that Facebook is close to developing a considerable competitive advantage at a time when more users are accessing mobile applications than ever.

Whether that ultimately results in an unassailable lead for Facebook in the social media wars remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: Even though developers can make for fickle friends, as a platform Facebook is clearly now a force to be reckoned with.

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