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Will Facebook Succeed Where Flash Failed?

Facebook launches a quest to be a cross-platform development tool and build bridges among its rivals' vertically integrated ecosystems. Here's how its position differs from Flash.

a matter of personal preference. They also invited extra work by integrating Facebook APIs that were subsequently changed.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook received a lot of feedback from users who didn't want to use Facebook Login and said his company no longer wants to "move fast and break things." Henceforth, it will focus on keeping its backend services stable and functioning. (Google had a similar epiphany about the downside of breakneck development in 2011 when it delayed Android 3.0 to focus on code quality.)

Facebook's pitch to developers contains some tough love: The company is adding anonymous login as a Facebook Login option to prevent privacy-conscious users from rejecting an app outright. While developers may fret that this deprives them of access to some users' email and other data, they may find that foregoing this information on occasion leads to better app adoption in the long run. Along similar lines, Facebook is making app permissions more granular. Having enticed 1.25 billion people to join its network, Facebook now has to focus on keeping their trust.

With such a broad audience -- many of them users of multiple operating systems and devices -- developers should welcome Facebook's cross-platform bid. It's doubtful Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft will, however. Each of these companies would like to provide cloud services to developers and to have access to the data passing through their apps. Each already provides services for mobile developers, and some (Google Play Services, for example) have already embraced a cross-platform approach.

Cross-platform development in the application layer entails some compromises, and it may limit implementation of native platform features, but it's the future in the data layer where Facebook plays.

What do Uber, Bank of America, and Walgreens have to do with your mobile app strategy? Find out in the new Maximizing Mobility issue of InformationWeek Tech Digest.