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Could Facebook be the Google of mobile Apps?

Pras Subramanian

Mark Zuckerberg is on a roll. A slew of major acquisitions, plans to use drones in the sky to deliver web access, and a streak of earnings beats have investors buying into his vision of the social web. At Facebook’s (FB) developer conference earlier this week, dubbed ”F8,” Zuckerberg showed the company hasn’t taken its eye off the ball.

In addition to revealing it’s much discussed mobile ad-network, and functionality like anonymous login for 3rd party apps, one of the biggest things revealed that has commentators buzzing is something Facebook is calling “App Links.” App links would allow apps to talk to each other, allowing users to go from app to app and back to the original app they were in virtually seamlessly.

As my Yahoo Finance colleague Phil Pearlman puts it, Facebook isn’t just building things for its platform, it’s building tools for the mobile web, which in the end could lead to the holy grail – discoverability and search among the world of mobile apps. Just as Google (GOOGL) dominates the web, Facebook appears to have its sights set on owning mobile across all platforms.

Eric Jackson of IronFire Capital has been watching the company very closely. Although he’s a bit cautious of the company at these levels, in the attached video he reveals even he was caught off guard at how quickly Zuckerberg was able to pivot Facebook into mobile. “I certainly didn’t see this coming two years ago, just how quickly they’ve moved to mobile, how their service has just been welcomed with open arms by the masses everywhere around the globe.”

In addition to being aggressive with acquisitions like Instagram and What’s App (and paying for them mostly in stock and not cash), Jackson respects how Zuckerberg is looking at new platforms, thus revealing how Facebook execs know the Facebook as we know it may not last forever. It’s this kind of forward thinking that has Facebook bulls betting on the company’s future.

One red flag for Jackson is the fact that Facebook doesn’t reveal what percentage of its ads are coming from app install ads. What these ads are trying to do is “to get you click here to download this thing off of the app store… This is where they’re printing money today,” Jackson says. The app developers are buying a ton a Facebook mobile ads fueled by VC money, and Jackson is afraid the “VC gravy train” of funding will dry up at some point, hitting Facebook’s bottom line in the process.

Are Facebook’s potential short-term issues with app install ads driving a revenue a concern, or is Zuckerberg’s soaring vision the reason to buy into Facebook’s mission? Let us know in the comments below, our Facebook page, or tweet us.

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