There’s No Place Like Facebook Home?

What is the purpose of Social Media? – To encourage and provide a platform for people to connect with each other. That seems like a pretty simple, yet powerful definition of what it actually is.

People use Social Networks for different reasons. The way I see it, Facebook is the current No.1 with over 1 billion users. In comparison, Twitter, which was introduced in 2006 (2 years after Facebook), has just over 500 million users. To me, this shows the fundamental difference between the two. Facebook allows its users to do a variety of different things. Twitter on the other hand, is far simpler; it is based on Tweets (status updates).

So, in 5 years time who is going to be out on top?

Put it simply, I would have said Twitter before Facebook released the ‘Facebook Home’ area of their business. Now, I feel I can say Twitter with some confidence. Although Facebook are currently leading, they are complicating and starting to change their network too much. Twitter are staying simple.

This morning, Mark Zuckerberg introduced ‘Facebook Home’ – “The family of apps that puts your friends at the heart of your phone”. It is essentially a way of Facebook dominating the operating system of your phone, well if you have an Android device anyway. You can either purchase a HTC phone (a Facebook phone, see image below) for $99, or wait until April 12th 2013 and download the different Facebook apps associated with Facebook Home (on Android phones).

 

https://www.facebook.com/home

Instead of being struck by a traditional ‘that looks pretty awesome’, I was left thinking ‘that is a desperate move from Facebook’. The way I see it; they trying too hard to force people to use Facebook on a increasingly frequent basis by encouraging them to buy a Facebook phone. Granted, it is pretty inexpensive, but will people drop their current phones to get a Facebook phone, or will they get one alongside their current device? Both are fairly unlikely. But of course there will be a some that will want one (particularly the younger generations). Furthermore, the apps associated with the device may encourage users to use Facebook increasingly, for example; its messaging function will be made easier, but it is unlikely to do what Facebook want it to do – they are relying on people to download the new apps but people already have a Facebook app that does everything, so why complicate it with a load of separate apps?

It seems like Facebook are trying to smother their users with their social network. I am very hesitant on it working – does a Facebook phone have a place in the market? – Does the brand have the power to persuade enough people to get one to make it a worthwhile venture?

Another interesting factor is that Facebook has only included their new anticipated ’Home’ apps on Android devices. Yes, Android are becoming very popular, but Apple still has its place. I can see why they have done it – exclusivity. However, if they really want everyone to use Facebook more, why not enable their app on all mobile operating systems? – perhaps they are hesitant on introducing ‘Home’ so are testing its success on Android devices.

I have consistently praised Mark Zuckerberg since I began blogging, so I still have faith that he knows what he is doing – but I am not convinced about this latest release. Mobile social networking is becoming increasingly important, but surely this is a step too high. Ultimately, I believe they lack the necessary monopoly power to effectively integrate ‘Home’ into everyday life.

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Is The Facebook Phenomenon Reaching Its Peak?

Facebook have an average of just over 1 billion monthly users and 680 million who use the app on their smartphones/mobile phones. So the question that must be asked is; how long can they keep expanding and are they near to reaching their peak?

The phenomenon that is Facebook, is “getting old” for many and increasingly people are getting fed up with Facebook. They are trying to introduce new aspects, such as the 20 highlights of 2012 on timeline, but it is it big enough to improve the experience of using Facebook? The core aspect of Facebook is to connect with friends through text, photos, videos and other media; this limits the extent to which Facebook can improve their site once so many people are on board. People are increasingly taking “Facebook Vacations”;  logging off the social network for several weeks at a time to get a break from constant social updates. This would suggest that some people are either no longer satisfied by its offering or are too bombarded by social media and genuinely just want a break. My bet is on a bit of both. Furthermore, Twitter is becoming increasingly popular with the younger generation, with many people now present on both Facebook and Twitter. People are also choosing to spend more time on Twitter than Facebook, but granted this is still likely to be the minority.

Facebook have introduced a bigger array of advertising on the site over the years, which could be a reason for the slowdown in excitement directed towards the Facebook brand. They target their advertising, as many of you will know, at each individual. They do this by scanning the individuals interests and ‘likes’ but also the location they are in, to increase the effectiveness in targeting the right audience with the advertising. It is a clever way of advertising, but do users feel bombarded by the increasing amount of ads? I personally do not, as I don’t mind adverts that are relational, but some may not care or just not want any advertising at all.

The next chapter…

Just under a month ago, Facebook held a press conference to introduce “Graph Search”. It will act like a search engine, but will be far more personal. Graph Search lets the user enter plain-English concepts that tie together multiple things the social network knows about the people who use it; for example, where they live, work, like to socialise. Moreover, it helps the user helps find people, photos, interests and places at a much faster rate. It is only be available to a very small minority at the moment, as it is in the beta stage, but will be rolled out over the year once it is perfected. It is going to make Facebook even easier to use, and much better in terms of finding things the user wants; It could potentially lead to people using Facebook as a searching function instead of a browsing one. This would differentiate it against Twitter.

At the moment, it does seem that the commercialisation of the Facebook brand and the lack of options for future expansion could limit the possibility of further growth at the rate it has achieved over the last 9 years. Although, it would be pretty daft to rule out Mark Zuckerburg to take Facebook to new, exciting places over the next decade, purely due to what he has already created.

It is safe to say that Facebook has not reached its peak, but it is safe to say that it is unlikely that growth will continue at the same rate it has achieved in the last 9 years.

Mark Zuckerberg; Genius?

The idea behind Facebook is very simple; enable the world to connect.

Since Mark Zuckerberg established Facebook in February 2004, it has grown to an astonishing 955 million users (as of June 2012), with almost all the countries in the world using Facebook to some degree. Fascinatingly, Mark describes it as a utility; it has become an integral part of many of our lives.

It has grown consistently over the last 8 years, and I expect it to reach the 1 billion user mark by the turn of the year. So surely the question is why has it been so successful? and how can it continue to be successful?

It has had unmatched success in the social networking sector due to its simple yet very useful functions, which I’m sure you’re all aware of. Myspace, bebo and the others were what Facebook put into one, and improved. Improvement is very difficult to sustain, so it will be hard for Facebook to continue to enhance their status, but if anyone can think up new innovate new ideas, its Mr Zuckerberg. However, it is not all perfect for Facebook. Since their flotation on the Stock Market, shares have fallen dramatically from the debut in may of $38 to $21 (as of 28th September). They valued themselves at $104 billion (£66 billion), which is not even remotely close to their profit levels. The reason for the high stock valuation is due to the concept of Market Capitalisation. The brand “Facebook” is worth $104 billion, not the company itself.

The high Market Capitalisation Facebook possess shows the real genius of Mark Zuckerberg.