NEW YORK (
TheStreet) -- In the last months
(FB - Get Report) has suddenly become a hot company again.
From its November low of $19.21 it has risen steadily to its current price of about $28.50. More important, the tone of analyst comments about it have changed. Now it's being put alongside
(AMZN - Get Report) and
(AAPL - Get Report) when people ask, "Who will rule the Internet in 2013?"
The question, like most media questions, is a silly one. But the Facebook comeback is real. It's based on one word -- mobile.
With Apple and Google's Android system holding a virtual duopoly on the mobile space, as
Facebook has been free to focus on two full operating systems. It has done that well.
Its new Messenger app transforms it into a complete solution for combining text and voice messaging, as
Jordan Kahn noted at
It's moving into Voice over IP, making it more of a phone company,
Its new user interface,
displayed here at
, is very mobile-friendly.
The key to any business, large or small, has always been the same: Focus on doing one thing very well. Facebook was seen right after its IPO as a social media company. That's a crowded field with little stickiness, and so the smart money dismissed it. Now Facebook is being seen in a different light, as a mobile networking company. It's a better story.
Best of all, by controlling its own mobile apps, which define its mobile experience, Facebook also gets to monetize that experience. Jim Edwards of
estimates the company now has
a $2 billion/year "run rate" in mobile advertising.
Mobile advertising has been a tough nut to crack and, according to analysts, Facebook has cracked it, by simply placing its whole user experience inside a mobile frame, and then selling ads against the frame.
The biggest challenge any technology company faces is creating a second act, a second hit, a second reason for being. This is the difference between the one-hit wonders and the acts that last.
To Facebook bulls, mobile advertising has become CEO Mark Zuckerberg's second act, one that will give his company a big future in mobile devices, and what was a sell in October is now a screaming buy.