For a while now, traditional marketers and social media naysayers, and the hipsters, have doubted Facebook’s longevity. They’ve based their arguments on failed social networks like MySpace. And they’ve further validated this argument by highlighting a decline in users.
These finding are by no means unfounded. Studies have found that teenage users prefer to sign up to smartphone-based applications, like KIK and Snapchat. This has in part been due to the massive growth in smartphone user and usage. The crux of this being that these users want single-purpose, first-class experiences in their pocket.
Don’t Think That The Zuck Hasn’t Noticed
Remember that small acquisition of Instagram way back when? And the recent purchase of WhatsApp for $19 billion? That was Facebook taking note and part of its massive ass whipping in the application industry. In fact, Facebook’s portfolio of acquired apps is rather impressive.
Since 2005, Facebook has acquired no less than 47 different app companies – some you’ve never heard of. Stop thinking of them as a product and start thinking of them as a company. One with a very large user base and the funding, attitude and manpower to achieve whatever they want to with it.
How Does This Spending Spree Translate Into a 10 Year Survival Plan?
Facebook wants to be like Coca-Cola, offering multiple, mobile friendly, standalone apps – like flavours – while maintaining the classic flagship. Facebook knows it has the world’s largest platform for growing and advertising new apps and is actively using this to empower fledgling apps, and market its own, like the recently launched Mentions.
Mark Zuckerberg is willing to go on the offensive, acquiring apps and companies that have already filled a niche that Facebook can’t pioneer. Like virtual reality company Oculus, for example (Facebook as a Virtual World. Wrap your brain around that one for a moment).
Where Does This Leave The Social Network?
Mr. Zuckerberg said the multi-app strategy is meant to adapt Facebook to the way people use mobile phones, which now account for the bulk of Facebook’s visits and advertising revenue.
Facebook has a plan and it’s a good one. By owning apps, you control smart device users’ experiences. After all, they form the largest part of all digital media consumers. By using the social network as home base (think emphasis off “social” and onto “network”), a place to distribute information linking to these applications, Facebook will never really go anywhere. It’ll just become more “marketplace” and less “coffee shop”. Or just slide into the background.
If the plan succeeds, then Facebook may eventually cease to look like Facebook. It may not even bear the name Facebook. But it will be everywhere, and you may not even notice it.