Somewhere along the line, Facebook stopped being just another web site where you could share a few pictures and poke a few old friends. They really defined the concept of social networking sites in ways that others had tried and failed before them (think MySpace). Certainly with over 800 million subscribers (with 1 billion being projected by the end of October) they can boast being a success. But that is all old news. What next?
The excitement coming out of f8, the recent developers conference, is that Facebook is evolving to become a platform. A tremendously diverse and potential-ridden platform that is cleverly completely and totally operating system independent.
Facebook continues to take strides toward being a hub for all of your entertainment needs. Recent partnerships with services from Spotify, MOG, Rdio, Rhapsody Turntable.fm, VEVO, Slacker, Songza, TuneIn, iheartradio and Deezer as well as Netflix, IMDB, Hulu, Blockbuster and Flixter show a commitment to becoming a social hub that shares entertainment and media in a way no other service currently does.
Facebook already rules the social gaming world, it only makes sense that they would reach a little further.
It doesn’t seem to matter that with every Facebook upgrade and update they seem to annoy as many people as they impress, people end up grinning and bearing it. The biggest entry into the Facebook alternative market is Google+, which while having grown 30% since going public has a current subscriber count of around 43 million users. This isn’t anything to ignore, but there are no statistics to identify how many of those people are choosing the new Google service to the exclusion of Facebook. I’m guessing not many, and not the users that Facebook cares much about anyway.
So where will the impact really be felt? I’m starting to think it might be Apple. People choose iOS devices in part because of the entertainment and recreation they provide –particularly with the iPad. If Facebook could succeed in delivering a web-based service, available at no charge, that can provide access to everything you love from Farmville to Netflix… do you still need an iPad? For many, this means nearly any device will do the trick when all you need is a web browser.
Zuckerberg should be finding his way onto Android’s Christmas card list this year.
Don’t mistake what I am saying here. I’m not saying ‘Facebook is the iPad killer’. There are still a considerable number of iOS users that do more with their devices than what Facebook can offer. What I’m saying is that there is the potential to lose market share with many casual users no longer needing the extras that Apple has to offer.
Can they do it? I’d argue that they’ve already started.