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What Facebook’s New Apple App Means for Its Business

CNBC

Some big news from Facebook as it tackles its biggest challenge—and opportunity—mobile.

It’s launching a new app for Apple’s iOs platform, which is twice as fast as the old app. The company gave us an exclusive look at its new product, bringing cameras into Facebook’s offices for the first time since its IPO.

All the executives we spoke to at Facebook stressed that this is a product announcement, but there’s no denying that it has implications for the social network’s bottom line.

The company is grappling with the problem that it has half a billion mobile users, but hasn't ramped up its mobile ads to keep pace with its mobile growth. Part of the solution may lie in today's announcement. (Read More:Facebook’s Real Problem Is Still Mobile: Analyst )

The new iPad and iPhone apps look very similar to the old ones—the big difference is how much faster everything loads, and how much smoother it is to scroll through.

Facebook says the new app is twice as fast as the old one, because it’s tailored to Apple’s code.

The fact that it’s built specifically to integrate with Apple’s technology will enable Facebook to be nimble and roll out updates. And the experience is designed to work with the way people use iPhones and iPads—with one hand. It’s easier to browse photos, comments, and messages.

The senior executives we spoke with acknowledged that Facebook’s old mobile apps were simply too slow and frustrating.

I asked repeatedly about what the changes would mean for ad revenue. No one would answer questions about ads, or anything about the top or bottom line. Instead, they shifted the conversation to stress one thing: Facebook’s focus on mobile. (Read More:Facebook Promotes Ad Efforts )

Facebook’s director of product Peter Deng told me “We are a mobile first company… every single app we are building now starts with mobile.” Deng says that now across the company teams are thinking about mobile before they think about the web experience.

Facebook won’t tell us how many people have downloaded its iOs apps, but Apple says that Facebook’s apps are the most popular ever in its app store.

Now that the new iOs apps are out Facebook is focused on its apps tailored for Android systems. The company’s clearly looking show users, advertisers, and investors that it’s committed to making mobile drive not only growth, but also revenue.

-By CNBC's Julia Boorstin
@JBoorstin

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.