What Will Happen to Facebook
Despite what you’ve heard about the demise of Facebook, the company is actually doing very well lately. There are 1.3 billion monthly active users, 50% of whom access the social network 6 or more days a week and according to Flurry mobile users spend 17% of their total time on the phone within the Facebook app. (#1 by a mile).
When everybody was saying “Facebook’s dead”, part of their argument was that people don’t go on Facebook now, they use their phones and check their apps. Well guess what Facebook did, they bought Instagram, an app that was stealing some of their screen time and introduced a new app that features apps that you might want to download (App Adds), which has produced some serious results. In Q1 of 2014 Facebook had $2.5 billion in revenue according to an article in Fast Company.
Although the core product of this company is the Facebook social networking service, which has indeed stalled, revenue is up. That’s amazing! In February 2014 Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion, an astounding amount of money for any organization. Then Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion. Facebook doesn’t want to be your social network of choice – it wants to be The Way people interact with each other through technology.
Facebook has had so many failures; it’s hard to keep count. Graph search, Facebook mail, Facebook deals, etc. New products seem to appear less these days – perhaps as a result of the growing number of employees at Facebook (up to 7,000). With more employees, there is more clearance needed for big ideas. Zuckerberg can’t sign off on every project one of these employees comes up with, so what we’re seeing is employees leave and build their ideas themselves.
If Facebook aims to become a truly multi-faceted organization, it won’t be easy, but they have built a strong foundation. Like any giant company – Facebook simply has to hold a press release and everybody’s paying attention – that by itself gives it a unique advantage over the competition. Maybe Facebook needs to go a little more Google and extend its brand into more distinct areas. Currently, each of Facebook’s products seem to be closely related to the point where you sometimes feel like Facebook only has one true product: the social network itself.
Yes, there are some issues. Teenagers don’t like Facebook anymore because it isn’t cool. That’s not really that big of a deal today. Teenagers don’t like a lot of products, that doesn’t mean they won’t succeed. Social media isn’t just for teenagers anymore in case you hadn’t noticed. So, where will the growth come from? Quick answer: India. By the end of this year, India should surpass the United States as the country with the most Facebook users. The problem is that the Internet in India is well, unreliable. Facebook has a solution in place for that though, Bharti Airtel is the largest communications group and has worked with Facebook to deliver better Internet access and offer special deals like free Facebook access at certain hours of the day.
What we know for sure is that Facebook has substantial resources and the company isn’t going anywhere for a while. The recent acquisitions are exciting, and the future looks bright.