Debunking the Latest Predictions of Facebook’s Demise

26 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Everything you need to know about the changes coming to Facebook.

Facebook announced a series of features and updates at its annual F8 Developer Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, and while the news is mostly targeted for developers and app designers right now, it could eventually mean big things for Facebook users.Facebook is trying to mold its Messenger app into a more versatile communications hub as smartphones create new ways for people to connect with friends and businesses beyond the walls of the company’s ubiquitous social network. Facebook executives introduced more than 25 products and tools tailored to help developers “build, grow, and monetise” mobile applications aimed at the social network’s audience of approximately 1.39 billion people.

Messenger is being upgraded to allow users to share photos, audio clips, videos, animated snippets and other digital content in what has the potential to tread on turf long dominated by Google-owned YouTube. By the end of April, Messenger will also be adding the ability to display store receipts and shipping information to help consumers keep track of their interactions with merchants and other businesses. On Wednesday, Facebook announced it was launching “Businesses on Messenger,” a set of new services that will allow companies to interact individually with customers through Facebook’s messenger app.

The move comes less than two weeks after YouTube begin supporting a similar video functionality, which allows users to see different vantage points on a video. The changes underscore Facebook’s vision for Messenger as a new communication tool that complements the social network and ramps up efforts to compete with rivals like Snapchat, which is adding media partners to its messaging app. Part of a larger rollout of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social network’s new platform strategy, Businesses on Messenger will potentially allow for a consumer to receive order notifications via instant message, or–even better–buy items directly through the messenger app. One of the Messenger upgrades was designed to build on Facebook’s move into e-commerce by weaving chat threads into purchases at websites, essentially turning formerly impersonal internet shopping into ongoing text message conversations. “We’re making Messenger a place where you can easily communicate with the businesses you care about in addition to the people you care about,” Zuckerberg said. Though it’s still early days, Facebook’s integration of business into Messenger could be the company’s ticket into the wider world of online retail.

Perhaps the biggest update unveiled during CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote is that Facebook Messenger — the social network’s chatting tool — is becoming a massive communications hub, where users will be able to do much more than chat with others via the service. Facebook appears well aware of our coming shift away from “flat videos,” and is getting ahead of the trend. “If you look back at Facebook five years ago, most of the content that people shared was text, status updates and wall posts,” Zuckerberg said in his keynote address. “Now today it’s photos, and other visual content. The push to plant more features in Messenger underscores the growing importance of apps that enable more intimate and direct conversations than social networks. Marcus then showed how he could buy a shirt from retailer Everlane, Facebook’s second retail partner on this effort, receive a confirmation and even modify his order, all within Messenger. Younger people, in particular, are increasingly using a wide range of mobile messaging apps to communicate with different circles of friends, while spending less time broadcasting their activities on Facebook’s more expansive social network.

And if you look out even further beyond that it’s probably going to be even more immersive content like [virtual reality and augmented reality].” “We’re at this interesting transition,” Zuckerberg said Wednesday. “We’re starting to see traditional video blend with even more immersive content. According to sources, Facebook will not take any cut or receive any referral fees for transactions made through messenger and the service will be completely free for businesses for now. In an age where the buzzphrase of “online-to-offline” has business owners scrambling to try any app or service that will bring them more customers, the Messenger integration could be a boon.

It’s not crazy to expect that one day instead of flipping through photos of a friends’ safari on Facebook, you’ll strap on a virtual-reality headset, look to your left and get chills because you’re staring at a lion. Facebook’s revenue last year surged 58 percent to $12.5 billion, a performance that has enabled the company’s stock price to more than double from its initial public offering price of $38 in 2012. Facebook certainly has the users and as it unrolls its recently announced peer-to-peer payments service, it will soon have a valuable repository of payment credentials.

That scenario is a long way off (Facebook’s payment service will strictly be person-to-person as it rolls out in the U.S.), but it’s fun to consider and as Facebook spreads its tentacles into a new area, potential rivals like Yelp and are no doubt paying attention. That threat is propelling Messenger’s expansion and also prompted Zuckerberg to spend $22 billion last year to buy WhatsApp, another mobile messaging service that has more than 700 million users. Mark Zuckerberg may soon be able buy all the gray hoodies his heart desires through his own service as the world’s social network transforms into its next commerce network. A large segment of WhatsApp’s audience is located in less affluent countries outside the U.S. and western Europe, making it more likely that it won’t be adding as many new tools as Messenger has, said David Marcus, who oversees Facebook’s messaging products.

Most Messenger apps are installed on iPhones and top-of-the-line Android phones, which provide the processing power needed to handle a range of multipurpose tools. Facebook introduced a software developer kit (SDK) to support the growing influx of web-connected devices for the home, like smart garage door openers and refrigerators. The decision to allow outside applications to operate within Messenger mirrors a pivotal decision that Zuckerberg made eight years ago when he opened Facebook to other programmers.

Marcus, who formerly ran PayPal, is hoping Messenger will follow a similar pattern now that it is operating as an open platform. “We have opened the floodgates,” he said. Facebook is counting on apps from other developers to enable Messenger users to express their feelings with GIFs, audio clips and other dynamic formats that “will bring a smile to people’s faces,” Marcus said. They collect data about your usage patterns and habits, and typically connect to an app that offers feedback to improve your lifestyle (or your racquet swing, for example). In his presentation, Zuckerberg predicted messaging apps eventually will include virtual-reality technology, something that Facebook acquired last year when it bought Oculus for $2 billion.

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