The Future of an Overvalued Social Network

As anyone who doesn’t live on Mars knows, Facebook had it’s IPO on 17th of May. It was valued at $104 billion, highly overvalued if you ask me. But I’m not going to talk about that because although I know a few things, I’m no expert on financial markets, nor it is the point of this post.

What I’m going to talk about is rumors that have been popping all around since the IPO. First off, Opera. Opera is an awesome but underrated browser which has 1.72% share worldwide according to StatCounter.  There’s been talks that Facebook is going to buy Opera. There are a couple of reasons why this might be true. First of all, because of Google’s leap in to social networking with Google+, Facebook and Google are now often depicted as direct competitors and that Google has its own browser for its ecosystem. Now you might think Facebook is only one website, but it isn’t. It has quite the ecosystem as well: photos, videos, groups, a message service. The difference is Google created it’s social network after it created its ecosystem but Facebook created its ecosystem after it created its social network.

There is also the fact that Facebook has a load of cash generated from the IPO, $16 billion to be exact. Facebook now needs to consider the investors when taking actions, since there is pressure to keep the stock on the positive side. So buying a browser company might actually be a good thing for Facebook, which would make it a software company instead of a social network company. Another indication of this possibility was the supported browser page which now redirects to the home page. As you can see on the right, it doesn’t list Chrome as a supported browser, which is really weird because recent reports state that Chrome is now the browser with the highest market share. So, yeah, Facebook might actually buy Opera, fine with me (not that anyone cares).

There’s a been a rumor which surfaced for a second time recently. That is the “Facebook Phone”. Now if that were to happen, Facebook would become a hardware company as well. Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility was recently completed, making it a hardware company as well. Now that’s what I call competing. But let me not get ahead of myself and talk about the phone. What would this be like? It would probably be a smartphone but it would probably have full synchronization with Facebook. At first this seems like a clever move since it has “488 million monthly active users who used Facebook mobile products in March 2012”. Yes, a lot of people use Facebook on their phones but buying a Facebook phone is something totally different. Now if we assume that the company will center the phone on Facebook, it would mean a deeply integrated notification system, a native Facebook messenger, a Facebook camera app and stuff like that. That would mean having Facebook as your main ecosystem and I don’t really know how I feel about that. I already think Facebook is overloaded with stuff I’m not interested not to mention ugly UI and ads. Imagine seeing things like “Oraj changed his mobile OS language to Chinese”. That is of course taking it too far but you get the idea.

However it’s narrow minded to assume that Facebook would 100% produce a “Facebook Phone”. It might choose to produce a smartphone with another name, still having a lot of integration with it’s ecosystem, but not making it the only choice. A good example would be Android and Google (funny how Google keeps coming up). Android is Google’s (it’s actually Open Handset Alliance’s) and it has deep Google integration but you’re not forced to use Google+ or anything. But what I think could happen is that Facebook would drop support for Android and maybe even iOS to gain smartphone market share through Facebook users. Taking into account its track for keeping both of the apps updated it might. I mean it already dropped support for Chrome and now that I think of it, there’s no Safari on there as well. If it does drop or slow down support in favor of its own hardware, they will lose people. Because contrary to popular belief Google+ is not empty. It has its own community, something which Facebook doesn’t have. Facebook has people in it, not a community. They will also have a pretty hard time competing with giants like Apple and Google not to mention new players like Microsoft.  So, I think you get my argument.

Make no mistake, I always love competition in the tech world. I’m just monologuing the advantages and disadvantages of these two possibilities. What I would do if I was Facebook? Go for Opera, hold up on the phone for now. Although it’s true that Facebook needs to make more money to keep it’s stock up, I’m pretty sure they can come up with something else. It took more than a few years for Google decided to become a hardware company, take the hint.

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About Oraj Bodur

Suspected of having fibre cables instead of veins. Huh.

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