Facebook Extends its Mobile Platform

Although this is a long article – which I admit I didn’t have time to finish Embarassed – it is worth a read because it gives you an idea of the Facebook mobile strategy and moreover relates it to the Google Android strategy and explains that Facebook can’t take advantage of every opportunity and is opening up more so others can assist.

Hats off to Rob Jackson for spending the time it took to put together this quality piece. Here is an excerpt:

  1. Single Sign-On: Open an application and automatically enjoy the experience with access and perhaps pre-installed knowledge about you and your friends. Sounds a bit like signing into your Android phone with your G-Mail account and having your contacts, calendar, apps, etc… already at your fingertips and syncing up!
  2. Location APIs: If we know where you are and where you’ve been AND we know where your friends are and where they’ve been, there are some very interesting things Facebook can do from a social standpoint. Google tried some of them with Buzz and Latitude but weren’t that successful, but then again, Facebook is a company whose #1 strength is Social so perhaps they can do what Google did not. But oh yeah, they don’t have to… because app developers will do that for them… and then they enjoy the value added.
  3. Deals Platform: merchandising and couponing is an industry where big bucks reside. In reality, it’s a form of advertising. Both Google (with Adwords/Adsense) and Facebook (with Facebook Ads) know this is a fact. Google embeds ads in maps, apps and games but has the social significance of “deals” reached any type of nirvana let alone effectivness? Not reall. But Facebook is now using their vast social reach and location knowledge to create a marketplace where it can work. Or where 3rd parties can make it work and then they’ll enjoy the value added. Ms. Cleo Moment: think Facebook will eventually allow developers to embed location aware “deal ads”  into their apps and games for a cut of the profit?

Their 3 announcements were big announcements, and they were big announcements because they were software driven rather than hardware driven. Which leads us to our next two points.

Consumer Disappointment
In the technically challenged PhanCast 25, Dave Demarest made this point blatantly obvious by asking, “How many people do you think closed the live stream right when they said there was no Facebook phone?”

Unfortunately, software isn’t as sexy as hardware. Having that high powered, sleek looking handset with outrageous specs is what gets the bulk of people excited. When Android was first announced, it was applauded by only a few. The majority seemed to think it was uninteresting and hopeless. Thankfully these aren’t the people tasked with creating innovative tech companies.

For the first year after Android was announced, nothing too exciting happened beyond the Android Developers Challenge. There were weeks that went by without a morsel of Android news. When Android was announced the fanfare was few and far between but it inevitably had a humongous impact. This Facebook announcement is the same. While you might not appreciate it now being the consumer driven bloke you are, a year down the road you’ll look back and think, “wow they are smart.”

Trust me on that one.

Consumers often can’t appreciate the long-term strategy and business leverage of such initiatives. Consumers want something and they want it now. That’s the crazy thing about the type of innovation that has made Facebook and Google so successful: they’re building the things you want before you know you want them. And once you have them, they’ll be things you don’t want to live without.

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