Monday, June 4, 2012

7 Points About The Future Of Facebook

Facebook f's image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 music industry blog
It's been a couple of weeks since the Facebook IPO, and we can all see a little more clearly what happened and maybe get a hint to where the social network might be going. Here are some thoughts that I have on the network as it currently stands, and what the future may hold for it.

As you'll see, there are 6 points, some good and some not so good. Let's begin.

1. Facebook still has room for growth. It's at 900 million users now, but that doesn't include much of Asia. In fact, most of the countries where Facebook has its greatest penetration (like the United States) are only around 50%, while India, Japan and Russia still are less than 5%. This is one reason why investors were somewhat bullish on the service, because no matter how big it is now, odds are that it will get bigger soon.

2. Facebook is a force. It gets 9% of all online visits in the US, according to Experian Hitwise. It's users are extremely engaged (the average user spends 20 minutes per visit). It could make money from revenue streams not yet in place, like the new phone, selling data on its users, monetizing storage or photos. It may seem like a one trick poney at the moment with advertising, but it doesn't have to be.

3. Kids aren't using it anymore. There's lots of empirical evidence that the current generation of teenagers (ages 13 to 17) don't find FB cool anymore. In fact, the largest growth (in the US anyway) seems to be in the over-45 demographic. Most teens are looking to Google+ (so they can keep their conversations within their Circles) or Tumblr instead. How can a network be cool if your parents are using it? This is a long term problem that FB faces as it loses the next generation of users.

4. They haven't figured out mobile yet. While FB has been able to make some real dough through advertising, it admittedly hasn't been successful at all on a mobile platform yet. You may not feel it, but the world is moving to mobile (especially outside of the US where bandwidth is higher and cheaper), and while the days of the the laptop may never come to an end, we'll soon be using our phones for much more than we ever envisioned. Unless FB can find a way to monetize mobile, it again has a long-term problem.

5. Facebook's advertising model is shaky. Major advertisers are beginning to question the value of FB ads. Of course, GM made headlines right before the IPO when it announced it was pulling its ad budget from FB, but other advertisers are looking to do the same (check out this article in Forbes from the ad buyer from American Apparel). It seems that the ads as they now run are very ineffective. Let's face it; do you ever in bother to look at any of the ads? This is a major problem for FB, and it's more current to medium term.

6. People don't like Timeline. Facebook hasn't been good with updates and it seems that every one raises the ire of more people than it pleases. Timeline has been universally panned, and as it becomes standard on FB, look for more people to check out social alternatives as a result, and never come back.

7. But they have $16 billion to make purchases with. This is the saving grace for FB. Say what you will about the IPO, but Facebook made out just fine, wringing every last cent out of the market instead of the middlemen getting it. With that much cash on hand, they can buy and develop other profit centers even if the current onces fold. But Microsoft, Yahoo and Google also had huge mounds of money and their acquisitions didn't amount to much, so the track records of public internet companies isn't that good. Still it does give Facebook a fighting chance if everything else goes wrong.

Did I or would I invest in Facebook? Hell, no! At least with Apple you had a genius, with Microsoft you had a monopoly and with Google you had a forerunner with massive momentum. I see none of that with Facebook. But don't count them out. That $16 bil in the bank is one formidable tool.

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1 comment:

vimala rani said...

What is the future of Facebook share value? Pls give some tips and advice to me......


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