Being left behind on the mobile landscape has motivated countless bloggers and techie prognosticators to cyberventilate as to FB's future. Based on an 11th hour stock devaluation by the company themselves (see previous post, "Facebook's IPO Morality Tale…"), coupled with the claim the company can't survive in the public sphere relying solely on ad revenues, Zuck has ridden a roller-coaster of criticism in one week's time that has cast yet another shadow over the world's largest social network.
Facebook CameraWith mobile one of the most promising areas for social media growth, Facebook's contradictory moves of purchasing Instagram for 1 cool billion and then turning around and introducing a similar but separate mobile product this past week, called "Facebook Camera," had many scratching their heads over the redundancy?
Many believe that Zuck took a back-seat when they were primed a year ago to set the necessary ball in motion to become the mobile industry leader. They had the money, the great "Silicon" minds and the reputation for scrappy, cuttting-edge know-how. So why did they falter?
Where they failed is instead of working on just another Facebook app, they needed to develop a new mobile product from scratch. One that wasn't an extension of Internet website precepts. One that was totally developed within the infrastructure of mobile technology. China's largest Internet conglomerate, Tencent did just that when they launched their mobile chat and photo sharing service last year called Weixin - and they have amassed over 100 million users with a stock price well over $200USD. A market I'm sure Zuck salivates over regularly.
Facebook's debut on the NASDAQ with a stock price that has already fallen by 15% has shaken the confidence of its 900 million users and the investment community at large.
However, with reports surfacing that Facebook has its own smartphone under development with the code name, "Buffy," one has to wonder if Zuck's decision to go public was a bit premature. That in so developing their own hardware, they needed more time in pillaging the great minds of Apple before they could start setting up their own shop, and first assembly lines.
According to Ina Fried's AllThingsD post, she intimates that the lag time could have been predicated based on Zuck's desire to move to HTML5, and that "building its own devices could help prove the concept and grow an initial market to make things interesting enough to attract (a multitude) of developers."
It's apparent that Facebook is not ready to go public with "Buffy," as engineers when interviewed recently by Nick Bilton in his New York Times' Bit column spoke only on the "condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing their employment."
And while Bilton questions whether a company "that is wired as a social network (can) learn to build hardware," and that "mixing the cultures of hardware and software designers is akin to mixing oil and water," one has only to remember what Google was capable of a few short years ago. The same questions were asked back then if a "search" company could make the leap from the Internet to cell phone technology- and within no time at all, Google's Androids were competing with major players, namely Samsung and Apple.
So is Buffy, the next new shiny thing, capable of slaying the big boys as well? Or is Zuck leaking this intel out into the blogosphere purposely to test the waters and perhaps attract more great minds to work on his new start-up? Based on FB's advertising empire primed to compete with Google head-on, will Facebook's Don Quixote not only take on that initial windmill but also China's half billion netizens that are still up for grabs? Your thoughts readers?
Zuck approaching the Big Boys in "Facebucks" graphic novel satire!