Facebook is an incredibly successful company, one of the most valuable on the planet. It is natural to assume that a main reason for this is that they've got a boatload of great programmers who produce code that users love. This assumption is wrong. In fact, the widespread adoption of Facebook masks deep, long-term quality issues that are not getting better.
Facebook recently passed $200 billion in market value. Amazing! It has billions of users world-wide and has no serious competition. No one can question FB's success in user count and market capitalization.
Facebook Mobile App
Mobile device use is going through the roof. We are in the middle of a massive, rapid migration from workstations and laptops to tablets and smart phones. This trend impacts FB just like everyone else. At the recent Money2020 conference, a top FB executive laid out the numbers, which are stunning; in short, FB mobile use nearly equals normal web use. If anything is important at FB, it's got to be getting the mobile app right.
Facebook Mobile App Quality
So how is FB doing, this premier, ultra-successful company with no lack of resources to do an excellent job? They've got to be doing way better than the rest of the industry, right?
Let's start by looking at user reviews:
Not too bad, 4 stars out of 5, right? But out of more than 22 million reviews, more than a quarter gave 1, 2 or 3 stars, more than 6,000,000 reviewers! Let's look at a few of those reviews. (I didn't scan for exceptionally bad reviews; I just picked off ones that were near the top of the Play store.)
Here are a couple reviews. Cindy gave 1 star because the app doesn't work at all, and Johnny gave 2 because he suddenly can't avoid being buried in notifications.
Here are a couple more reviews. The third reviewer gave 3 stars even though the app is basically disfunctional.
These are educational:
The 3 on the left describe things that worked on a prior release that no longer work, which is the cardinal sin of quality testing. Look at Bratty's review awarding 4 stars, even though he/she can't use the app at all. Makes you wonder if anything but 5 stars is good for FB. Jeremy's review sums it up: "you're still not listening to your users." If only 5 stars represents satisfied users, the ratings mean that about half of FB app users have a serious bone to pick. Which is quite a statement.
FB App Quality in Context
Compare the performance of the FB app to the performance of your car. Getting a new release of the app is similar to getting your car back from the repair shop, only with little trouble on your part and no expense. Most cars run pretty well -- they start in the morning, run through the day, and rarely break down. When you get your car back from the repair shop, it's even better, even less likely to break down.
Not true for FB. Even though it's "in the repair shop" pretty frequently, the FB "mechanics" all too often find a way to break things that used to work, and fail to fix things that didn't work when it went into the "shop." FB programmers and managers think they're way smarter than auto mechanics, but if the car people performed even a little bit like the FB crew, they'd be out of business. The reality is that, with all their oh-so-highly-educated-and-smart mountains of cool (mostly) dudes, the FB crowd can't come close to delivering the quality that nearly every corner-garage mechanic delivers every day.
FB quality stinks, and it stinks for their fastest-growing, flagship product. In saying so, I'm simply summarizing the expressed experiences of literally millions of their users. There are ways to achieve high quality software. FB does not lack the resources. The fact that they don't deliver quality and aren't even embarassed about it tells us that they just don't care.