It has been a fairly busy month for Mark Zuckerberg. His company completed its Initial Public Offering (IPO) recently, which was the most anticipated one in the whole history of internet companies. Although, the IPO didn’t fare according to the expectations whatsoever, but experts still believe the sky isn’t falling for the company. This is true, because Facebook still has the backing of its 900 million+ users and is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years. But, even the executives of the social networking king wouldn’t deny that there is lot to be done if the throne has to be retained. Therefore, they’re now beginning to realize that it is necessary to target mobile-users so as to maintain long-term growth. For the same reason, Mark Zuckerberg vowed in front of investors, prior to the IPO, that mobile will be the next focus of the company.
There are currently 425 million+ people who use Facebook through mobile and this number is only expected to grow. Yet, facebook accepts that it currently doesn’t generate any effective revenue from these users. This needs to be fixed soon, and Facebook knows it. Reportedly, it is planning to take the following two major steps in this direction:-
- Web Browser: - A Pocket-lint report cites a “trusted source” that Facebook wants to buy Opera Software — manufacturers of the Opera web browser —which claims more than 200 million users worldwide. This deal would also include the highly acclaimed mobile browser Opera Mini, which is still widely used in many countries. It has received strong positive reviews online; meaning a functional Facebook browser made using Opera Mini could be even more powerful. This would provide complete control over user-experience, driving Facebook deeper into our lives.
A Facebook browser would also strengthen its competition with Google. Google Chrome is currently the web’s most-used browser, but Facebook’s enormous user base of more than 900 million people, coalesced within a browser would present a serious threat for Chrome down the line.
- Smartphone: – Reports have said that Facebook has teamed up with HTC and has invested heavily in development of a Smartphone, named ‘Buffy’ (The Google Slayer?). This project had begun in 2010, but was discontinued temporarily due to complications. Currently, newspaper reports suggest that facebook is hiring engineers from Apple who were responsible for development of iPhone.
Reasons are clear as to why Facebook wants its own Smartphone. Again, the control over user-experience comes in. For now, Facebook’s mobile applications are nowhere comparable to the desktop experience and have received bad reviews from users. A Smartphone centred on the social networking site can give Facebook full-freedom to control the user-experience which they’re unable to achieve presently, because mobile giants like Apple and Google don’t necessarily want Facebook to occupy their phone space. Above all, “companies which are serious about their software, build their own hardware.”
Apparently, Facebook wants to be more than an internet site where you can go and use the services. It wants to integrate the social networking behemoth with your life like you’ve never imagined before. Certainly, two above-mentioned products are significant steps in this direction. But, looking from our perspective, these strategies are not free from loop-holes. Our questions to Facebook would be: Where is the innovation in these products? And, why would people use them? Nobody wants to limit his mobile and web experience to one social networking site. And even if they did, what is the probability that they’ll continue? The newly married CEO of the newly public company must be cogitating on these questions more than we are.
Intern – Creative