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.
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?
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.