Lightbox has announced that they will be packing up shop and joining Facebook next month. The android app will be pulled from the Google Play store and will be brought into the fold at Facebook. Thai Tran and Nilesh Patel were excited to announce the acquisition on the Lightbox blog Tuesday.
Facebook acknowledges in their SEC filings that they are moving toward a more profitable model concerning mobile users, and that this would be a booster for monetization. Facebook has been long criticized for having a rather unprofitable model despite it being the most popular social network around. This buzz, is currently what assigns value to the social network. 83% of users say they will never click and ad, and don’t even pay attention to them; In the coming days to the IPO of Facebook, there is an increased amount of scrutiny applied to the level of profitability.
A predecessor to Facebook in the tech-gaint category was Microsoft. Think of 2012 Facebook as 2001 Microsoft, when they had just released Windows XP and the entire world was being seen through Microsoft Office colored glasses. Microsoft adopted a similar strategy, which one would say is not a strategy at all, but more like a means of treading water; when the product lines went from the state of active innovation focusing on new products, they started to rely more heavily on acquisitions of tech-startups to assimilate into their giant Microsoft family. As we recall, this did not end up so well; Microsoft started to lose profitability because they had lost the original zest and zing that had made them the tech-giant of the 90′s.
Facebook and Microsoft can learn from each other in many ways. When Microsoft was vying for a place in the market, the focus was on the consumer experience and what is best for the consumer, much similarly, so was Facebook. With their upcoming IPO, and congruent with the history of Microsoft, as there is increased pressure to maintain profitability, the focus has in fact shifted to the sole benefits and interests of the company. Facebook has already spelled out so-called “red-line changes” in the much-quibbled-over privacy agreement, which is becoming more reminiscent of the Sheldonian Roommate Agreement; these changes are ways in which your data, once labeled ‘your privacy’ is now being monetized in new ways that many are saying crosses the line.
Facebook may be the social giant it is now, but if history is any indicator, the tech market is a fickle hive-mind that shows loyalty only to those who have the ‘it-factor’ and buzz. The days of Facebook are numbered, and as people are now able to ‘peek behind the curtain’ with the increased scrutiny of the upcoming IPO, the business sector will fade predictably along with the user base as the users migrate to more practical networks like Path and Twitter, which both seem to be the embodiment of what Facebook is not. Cool.
Younger users, originally the first adopters of Facebook, are now grown, and have seen the big blue behemoth change into something that they no longer recognize. The goals and priorities of the social network, have in fact, changed to be more congruous with investors and Big Data participants: government, advertisers, cannibalizers of social data and statistics.
Let’s look at Myspace; we’d rather not, but it is a painful sore on the social face of the internet that can be learned from greatly. At some point Myspace stopped looking at people as users and more as numbers. As you put more eggs in one basket, it becomes exponentially tastier in the minds of an advertiser who seeks to capitalize on the numbers. We all remember the Myspace spam clogging up our ‘walls’ with glitzy glittery ads written in poor english. The same thing is happening to Facebook now with ‘fb.me/’ being the new ‘.com’ for advertisers such as Tide and Gibson Guitars to name of few. Once upon a time, and hard to believe, only 5 years ago, one could buy an ad on the front page of Facebook for 20$. The advertising strategies of a fledgling startup have changed significantly in the years since it entranced the world with a product that had such promise, and a creator who was so driven.
It is unclear what the future holds for Facebook, but hopefully whatever Zuck creates next won’t taste so badly of Soilent Green.