Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made an appearance at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco, talking about the company's mobile strategy and vision. It was the first time he had made a public appearance since Facebook went into IPO mode back in May, acknowledging that the networking giant's public offering – which is now selling for around half the initial $38 price – isn't performing as hoped.
"The performance of the stock has obviously been disappointing," Zuckerberg said.
Investors have reportedly been concerned about the company's ability to increase revenue and make money from the social website's growing mobile audience. But Zuckerberg points out that Facebook has big opportunities in both mobile and search, and that the company's mobile approach has been one of its most "misunderstood" traits thus far.
"I think it's easy for folks to underestimate how fundamentally good mobile is for us," Zuckerberg said in an on-stage interview, adding that more people have phones than PCs, and that they engage with the site more on their mobile devices, as much as six out of seven days a week.
"We already see mobile users are more likely to be daily active users," he said. "We think we're going to make more money on mobile than on the desktop."
So does that mean Facebook may produce its own smartphone? Absolutely not. "It's so clearly the wrong strategy for us," he said. "We're going in the opposite direction [from companies that are building their own phones, such as Google and Apple]. We want to build a system that's as deeply integrated as possible into every device people use."
During the interview, Zuckerberg also touched on rumors that the social website was building its own search engine. He said that Facebook is currently doing 1 billion queries a day – mostly people searches, but also searches for company brand pages and applications -- "and we’re not even trying." He said the company is in the perfect position to get serious about a search engine, and in fact there's a team already working on it.
"I think Facebook is uniquely positioned to answer a lot of queries people have," he said. "Like, 'What sushi restaurants have my friends gone to in New York in the last six months and liked? I know there's a big opportunity there and we just need to go and do that."
People want answers to their queries, not a pile of results to sift through, he added. "Search engines are really evolving to give you a set of answers, ‘I have a specific question, answer this question for me,'" he said.
What Facebook has that Google doesn't – and likely never will – is all the data provided by Facebook users. This is why Google has integrated Google+ into its search algorithms to produce more personal results. Google Now is an attempt to get even more personal, pulling from the user's Calendar, location and other details to offer a more personal pool of results.
Zuckerberg also talked about some of the "missteps" Facebook has taken over the years, including jumping on the HTML5 bandwagon rather than focusing on native apps. He made it perfectly clear that Facebook remains optimistic about the web-based platform, but taking that route has caused the company's mobile strategy to suffer.
"But we're coming out of that," the said. "The [new] iOS app is out and the [new] Android will be out soon."