Ina Fried

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Mobile Highlighted as Key Risk Factor (and Opportunity) in Facebook Filing

As we’ve noted a bunch, one of the biggest risks for Facebook going forward is how well it is able to translate its desktop success into mobile.

Facebook, it would appear, agrees.

In Wednesday’s filing to go public, the social networking giant mentions several times that more than 425 million users access the service each month from a mobile device. However, it also notes that the company currently makes little ad revenue from all these mobile visits and that it expects a continued shift to mobile devices.

“We believe that mobile usage of Facebook is critical to maintaining user growth and engagement over the long term, and we are actively seeking to grow mobile usage, although such usage does not currently directly generate any meaningful revenue,” the company states in one part of the document.

The challenges in mobile feature prominently in the “risk factors” section of the company’s S-1 filing. In other sections of the document, mobile is also listed as both a key growth opportunity and an investment area for the company.

By my browser’s count, the word mobile appears 123 times in the document.

To date, much of Facebook’s work has centered around bringing its applications to all manner of smartphones and feature phones, but the company has said it wants to be a more serious player in mobile and last year released the first part of an HTML5-based platform it hopes developers will take advantage of.

In addition, as reported by AllThingsD in a series of articles last year, Facebook is quietly developing its own mobile phone design as part of a project code-named Buffy.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work