When is enough enough, Zuckerberg?

It’s safe to say Facebook has changed the world. Props to you Mark Zuckerberg. But there comes a time when enough is enough. Speculation about a “facebook phone” has had techies buzzing for months, even years now, and the suspense is all building up to this Thursday, April 4th when Facebook will (or will not) make the anticipated announcement about their next product. Zuckerberg recently made a statement claiming his company wants to “increase the depth of experience in addition to just growing users.” Many believe this is a small hint to a large innovation, what will be a mobile phone operating system based around the social media site itself.

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My question is: what competitive advantage will this phone, rumored to be called “the Myst” produced by HTC, really have? The Facebook app itself, available for any and all smartphones and portable devices, has provided users with access to their favorite networking site any- and everywhere—what more do they really have to offer? Zuckerberg may be doing too much, and the release of this entirely new product could be simply redundant, and with that, an unprofitable endeavor for the company.

However, on the contrary, Facebook has established quite a loyal group of followers, and obviously a large one at that—680 million users per month to be exact. They can only hope that this high volume of established users will carry over into a new category of product. And if the company is able to do so, the venture will be more lucrative than their (free) online service ever could. The question is how user engagement will carry over from internet account to an entire phone operating system. Today, when a consumer walks into a store, they are already faced with dozens of Android, Apple iPhone models, and even Blackberrys (still) to choose from. It doesn’t seem guaranteed that a Facebook phone would stand out in this already competitive market. Additionally, we must evaluate the product: is it Rare? Inimitable? Non-substitutable? Valuable?

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More importantly, would you buy the Facebook phone?

The way social media sites like Facebook have transformed society is unprecedented. But these companies have, and continue to, capitalized on what they are good at. Facebook may be spreading itself thin by introducing an operating system into a market that already has similar, if not the exact same, products, already created and popularized.

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18 thoughts on “When is enough enough, Zuckerberg?

  1. I like this article because I haven’t heard of the idea of a facebook phone. It wouldn’t be surprising if they were expanding into the phone market and creating new products to keep up with the economy and expand into different markets. I think it is a good point that they could be spreading themselves too thin but as long as they are still specializing in the facebook site still and not changing into a purely tech company, I think that it is probably good to keep up with what is profitable. It would require proper execution but with the team of people that are employed at facebook I think that this is plausible. I think this is a good example of the double edged sword. I really liked this post and thought it clearly displayed a side of this argument.

  2. No I would not buy the Facebook phone. The keys to value you listed above are not met in my mind. Of course I have no idea what the phone is like yet, so its hard for me to say I will stick to my guns if they release something revolutionary. Facebook seems to be the king of new releases and changes that do nothing but annoy their users. They get away with it because they are ingrained in our lives and we have no other options.

  3. This is a really interesting post, and I hadn’t heard about the Facebook phone before now. I think you are right that it lacks some of the important qualities to compete with all of the other smartphones. I think Facebook lacks the brand quality that Apple and other companies have that help them sell their product. There aren’t many emotions or feelings that people get with they think about Facebook, so they would not be drawn to their phone over others. I would even argue that people have negative associations with Facebook since people often spend so much time on it and it can make people feel bad about themselves, so that would probably not help sales. I like that you brought it back to class and talked about the importance of a product to be rare, valuable, non-substitutable, and inimitable. I think Facebook phone would lack many of these because it can be easily substituted with other products that are arguably better (Iphone, etc.) and it is not very rare, etc. This was an interesting topic to choose.

  4. This blog brings up a very good question. I am interested to learn more about this “Facebook phone” and what makes it stand out from the competition. Mark Zuckerberg, however, has proven that his core competency is creating a social media network. I was wondering, why is Zuckerberg departing from social media, which he excels at, and moving into smart phones? Will Zuckerberg be able to bring the same level of excellence to smart phones?

  5. According to the product evaluations, I believe that the smartphone industry is already crowded and that the customers have a lot of buying power. So unless Zuckerberg creates an exceptional phone with innovative applications, or unless Facebook’s large client bases switches to the phone, I don’t think that it is going to be successful. I believe that you present this argument very well by explaining what the phone is to the many who have never heard of it before and by going through the difficulties that it would face when it is released. Additionally, I like how you made the connection with class by asking if the phone would be rare, inimitable, non-substitutable, or valuable.

  6. I thought this was a very well-worded, thought out blog that covers all sides to this story. Like most people have stated, this is the first time I am hearing about the Facebook Phone too. I personally do not think I would make the switch over to the phone because the iPhone is so compatible with many other tech items I have. I liked how you incorporated the class vocabulary into accessing how successful this new phone will be. We have been talking a lot in class about how each company we study does something better than anyone else can, and that is what they as a company focus on. This article also speaks to this point. I like how you point out that Facebook might be trying to expand too much, as many people have stated above. I also thought your use of pictures and graphs really enhance the key points you make throughout the post. Finally, I thought your tone through out the blog was very good. It livened the content and kept my interest.

  7. What a coincidence! I just read a post on digital trend about the Facebook phone and it basically said that no one would want one (http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/facebook-phone-survey/). I honestly see no point in a Facebook phone. I agree with what you said about how Facebook can basically be used on any system so what exactly is the point of having a Facebook focused phone? Facebook is a great social media site however I don’t really think it would translate well onto a phone platform, in fact I think that the Windows platform for the phone kind of mimics Facebook already because it has life tiles that keeps people updated on Facebook, twitter, and news. I wonder if Zuckerburg will release a phone though after seeing that no one finds the phone appealing.

  8. I really liked your post. Before I read this, I had no idea that there was even talk about a “Facebook Phone”. In my opinion, I don’t think this “Facebook Phone” would be very successful. Today, brands such as Google and HTC try to come out with new phones and advertise continuously but to no avail. When consumers become comfortable with one phone, I think it is very hard for them to switch. For me, I have no issues with my iPhone so why would I want to pay an astronomical fee to see how different this new phone could really be. It would be one thing if FB wasn’t available as an app on most other phones, but what more could FB really bring to the table with this phone. I think the majority of people lined up to buy this phone would be the “techy geeks” who wait outside of Apple to try the newest addition. I’m interested to see if this is merely a rumor or a possibly and if so how the public will receive it.

  9. Thanks for your input guys, and I will be sure to keep you updated on twitter about the Facebook Phone’s release status!

  10. I would not buy a Facebook phone but I think they need to do something in order to keep their brand fresh and current. I know a lot of people who have deleted their Facebook accounts because they are sick of them and no longer think they are necessary because of other social media sites. I think Facebook needs to come up with something new in order to keep their reputation as innovators but I don’t think a smart phone is the innovation that will put them on top of the tech pyramid. Right now the smart phone market is extremely competitive and I don’t think they could beat out apple due to brand loyalty. I’m excited to see how it plays out and great blog!

  11. I really liked this article, but it also left me confused by Facebook, as a company. I think Facebook has definitely reached their “enough” point where I think it would be appropriate for them to introduce new features, but making a whole new product seems incredibly risky. Assuming they in fact do start producing this product, why would anyone buy it? Why buy a phone from a company that is known for online programming as opposed to electronics? The reason people were so eager to buy the first iPhone is because Apple is a technology company that makes devices. Facebook is very good at what they do, but I think people would be highly skeptical of them trying to jump into a whole new industry. Is this some sort of attempt to get their foot in the door as the new Apple? I guess this article left me VERY confused and I do not really know what to think of the Facebook phone. What I can say without any hesitation is that I will absolutely not be in line to buy this phone, should the rumors of its existence be true. Great job on your blog!

  12. It seems as if Zuckerberg is testing, almost pushing his limits. Facebook is doing so well on the social media front, and by entering into the mobile phone market it is setting itself up for failure. Similar to the situation described in my blog with Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Facebook could predict that their product will sell well but when it doesn’t they will be left with a large inventory that will ultimately cause their revenue to suffer. Then Facebook will be forced to fight back for however long to recover from this loss. By entering into the mobile phone business, Facebook will create competition with businesses that it has partnerships with such as Apple and Android. Facebook must earn a good sum of revenue just from releasing its app to be used by these phones. If competition arises between the companies, Facebook may lose this revenue when its competitors refuse to sell the Facebook app any longer. Also mentioned in class, Facebook should first focus on how to make its present possessions better, especially its mobile app, which is slow and glitchy and definitely could use some improvement.

  13. Like a lot of the commenters above, I also don’t believe Facebook would be too successful in the mobile phone industry. While a huge amount of people utilize Facebook, I don’t think it has a large enough grasp on what it takes to make an appealing cell phone. Social media is very prevalent in today’s lifestyle but that doesn’t mean a cell phone needs to be created around one platform when existing phones, such as the iPhone and Android phones, have already made the service very accessible on mobile devices.

  14. It seems to me that Zuckerberg is attempting to enter a market that is already controlled by big-time players like Android and Apple. Of course, the company may have the money, but it is important work to continuously innovate and make their current social media technology top notch. Interestingly enough, Facebook isn’t the only company attempted to change the smart phone market. Blackberry, formerly Research In Motion, has just come out with a new touch screen device that supposedly may cause a regaining of market share. With products awaiting introduction to the market such as the Galaxy S4, Blackberry’s Z10, and whatever Apple is hiding, surely a Facebook phone could not be a success. Hopefully, the phone will attract a small portion of the market.

    The smartphone market is best represented here. Can Facebook gain a slice?

    http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/technolog/70-percent-us-owned-smartphones-are-iphones-or-androids-121021

  15. I would not buy the Facebook phone as many others have stated as well. Every smartphone has access to the Facebook app and I do not see the need for a phone based completely on it. Social media has become an integral part of our lives, so I can understand why Facebook would think making a phone would be very attractive to people. But I believe the smartphone market is way to competitive and saturated with many other products that have had time to be perfected. The Facebook phone is entering the market too late and Facebook should be focusing on keeping its app competitive and instead of creating a Facebook phone should just work on continuing to integrate Facebook with other smartphones. I believe Facebook has made the wrong choice to enter the smartphone market now.

  16. I think it is very interesting to see that Facebook’s next possible consideration of expansion is to a smartphone, an industry that is already controlled very much by Andriods and Apple iPhones. The only thing that I am wary about is whether they do this, will they be able to make their phone unique enough for loyal Andriod and iPhone users to leave their beloved products behind? If they create an advance that sets them apart, I think the Facebook phone would have a chance, but if they don’t, it may end up just being a waste.

  17. Just like Professor Kane stated in class, I believe that Facebook’s approach of creating this phone is to prevent companies like Apple or Samsung controlling the way Facebook interacts with its customers over mobile devices. Nevertheless, I am not sure this is a good move. Facebook’s core strength is social media, not mobile technology. Additionally, there are big monster companies on this field which will be difficult to deal with. Facebook, with no experience in mobile devices, almost seems like a David against Goliath, only that this time I am not sure if David will be able to win.

  18. Pingback: Facebook’s new initiatives…complete misstep or genius? | MI021 Class Blog

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