With talk of Facebook IPO in the near future and potential rumours about Facebook community showing signs of plateauing what is the likely predictions around where Facebook’s going with its functionality. This is our guess…
1) Improved chat with audio in video. With Microsoft’s purchase of Skype, you can see that there is an increased appetite to push video into social applications. Facebook’s approach to create a central messaging hub with facebook email and chat integrated into one messaging platform, combined with online presence, naturally asks the question where’s video. We think it will come and it will be a big hit with users. The biggest current challenge to video is its ease of use. But now with most laptops embedded with video capability, smart tv’s and tablet devices will mean that video calling will start to grow. It is one of the natural steps for facebook to make. There are already a number of Facebook video conferencing apps in the appstore that show the capabilities of combining video capability with social networking.
2) Music and media. Closer alignment with Spotify shows that the music and media industries naturally fit with social networking, both can benefit from each other. Spotify integration with Facebook brings together perfect examples of what a users likes and dislikes with their online presence indicating what they are listening too. Moving forwards we can start to look at streaming of content such as movies and tv programmes. Facebook’s unique ability to really tune into users makes it a fantastic media platform for the future. Expand this into the living room through Smart Tv’s combined with social usage will make Facebook a two way social media channel platform.
3) Check-in. Facebook officially launched its check-in service last August. At the moment it updates your status and brings together people that are in the same location as you. But if you look at the potential behind this service to bring together and to connect people with other people in the same location or to enable businesses to target people in a particular place, in realtime, it brings a whole new dimension to this service. Both facebook and its development partners are starting to get to grips with this capability so we can expect to see more exciting developments in the near future.
4) Social commerce. One of the obvious beneficiaries from the 600,000 + community of Facebook users, however Facebook is in a difficult space. The only advantage they can gain from any social commerce activity is via advertising or providing a platform for payment, analytics, user information and storefront functionality. However Facebook could provide more intelligence to group or individual buying. We don’t know what Facebook will do in this area but we know what they can do, its just how it will be perceived by the user community if they go too far. We can expect to see more tools for businesses to provide apps advertising.
5) Facebook intelligence. Facebook already employs a tonne of intelligent analytics and algorithms to provide search and relationship suggestions. The recently launched auto photo tagging service starts to utilise facial recognition but where could facebook go if it really starts to make sense of what’s going on in the community? As we enter web3.0 and web4.0 generations making sense of the web, the community and the conversations will enable platforms like Facebook to add a new levels of usefulness. Products and brands can find you rather than you searching for them. Information can find you, communities can find you. Facebook with intelligence could be even more powerful than the network already is. Then apply the concept to knowledge and learning then the network could aid knowledge expansition of individuals within the community.
Who knows where Facebook will go next. What we do know is that the platform will continue to grow in significance and usefulness to the user community. There is no significant challenge to Facebook so it really is their battleground to innovate in, lets just hope that through their partners and their own innovations that any future initial public offerings will not get in the way of this social revolution.