The Facebook social network has expanded to over 1.2 billion people across the globe, and the company has successfully moved its primary application — “the big blue app” — onto smartphones. Skeptics may wonder if Facebook can keep all those users. But Zuckerberg doesn’t concede that’s even an issue. Instead, he’s figuring out how to plug his social network into all the other apps that run on your phone. He’s thinking ahead, plotting his transition to a new world of computing, one that includes rapid-fire messages, wearable devices, and maybe even virtual reality.
Today, at its F8 conference in San Francisco, the company is reaching out to software developers, hoping to enlist their help in this push toward the future. When Facebook ran mainly on our desktop machines, inside our web browsers, Mark Zuckerberg and company encouraged coders to build right on top of their social network. But now, in a world of standalone smartphone apps, they must find other ways of connecting with the rest of the internet. Yes, Facebook has bought popular apps, like Instagram, and it’s building new ones through its Creative Lab. But Facebook also sees itself as a resource for the entire community of app developers, providing all sorts of tools that help developers build, run, improve, and monetize their apps — even if their contact with Facebook is glancing.