Facebook to announce something “awesome” next week – is it really about Skype?

Facebook to announce something “awesome” next week – is it really about Skype?

As you will recall, at the beginning of last week, while Google was creating the buzz around its forthcoming Google+, Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook was going to announce something awesome next week.

Mashable, one of the most followed news portals around new tech and social media, yesterday announced the “awesome” news was about the integration of the Skype Video chat with Facebook. While surely this would definitely be a good improvement for Facebook, I don’t see it being that “awesome”. So I decided to investigate a bit further.

This is why I believe it may not be just that:

Facebook and Microsoft started a long-lasting relationship back in August 2006, when they signed an exclusive agreement which made Microsoft the exclusive advertising platform for Facebook. This deal was worth 900M$  and it was for 3 years. In 2007 Facebook and Microsoft Corp. announced that the two companies were expanding their advertising partnership till 2011 and that Microsoft was taking a $240 million equity stake in Facebook’s next round of financing at a $15 billion valuation.

In 2008 Facebook implemented Microsoft’s Live search in its pages and in 2009 the two companies announced a further integration with Bing. While Facebook was integrating search with social network, Google launched its first OS: Chrome (2008). In 2009 Facebook purchased FriendFeed, somehow similar to twitter, but not as “followed” as the original.

Big things happened in 2010.

Bing search service started to mine anonimized data from consumer usage of Facebook’s (recently introduced) Like buttons, and Microsoft signed a partnership with Bing, and then added Facebook into Outlook. [Question to self: will Google use anonimized data for our searches while we are logged in on G+?]

In the meantime, some other partnerships didn’t go through: Apple and Facebook didn’t find any agreement for Ping, Apple’s music-social-network on iTunes, and Microsoft and Twitter didn’t partner on Bing (Twitter recently announced an agreement with Yahoo Japan). Apple made it to Twitter though, and the next iOS will have Twitter already integrated. And still during these times, Google had again social network troubles, with Buzz (its first attempt was Orkut, only successful in Brazil).

2011, so far, seems an year of surprises, or at least the year of the truth:

–          Facebook hires: starting with Orkut’s business development person, and going to Microsoft’s global ad sales head Carolyn Everson – which was about to turn into a possible legal action, till the most recent hacker who jailbroke the iPhone and PS3 seem actually going to mark another milestone in the Facebook story. Facebook also buys some software companies, such as Sofa.

–          Microsoft buys Skype for 8.5B$. Definitely a big thing for Facebook, after the integration with Live Messenger, definitely Skype would have been the next one. So not really awesome I would say- at least not such a surprise, we all knew it was coming. It would be awesome if we could share videos in real time – a true real live feed and video, from our mobile – which is the most used way to upload pictures on Facebook- made possible through the integration of Skype and Facebook. This would also make sense if we keep in mind the Seattle-based team who developed this “awesome” thing is definitely focused on mobile-related technologies and applications.

(Click to enlarge- this has been adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/michperu/3702942040/ )

–    In the meantime, Google launches updated profiles in February and then more recently Google +, integrating and enhancing its previous unsuccessful social attempts and its successful apps, and tapping into common users for gathering feedback, while creating great expectations by limiting the access to a few users only.  [I’m one of the lucky ones- see my preliminary thoughts here]

So now, what shall we expect as forthcoming awesome announcements? Surely the Skype one is a big thing, but let’s try and think about what we could really call awesome (and surprising):

–          Not sure you noticed, but LinkedIn is looking more and more like Facebook. I just noticed in the past couple of days how comments on LinkedIn and Facebook look so incredibly similar in terms of shape, colors and available links (Like-Comment-Share). And not sure you noticed, while Facebook was testing quietly its own LinkedIn app (BranchOut) since a while using LinkedIn API with no issues, as soon as Monster announced its own Facebook app (BeKnown) quite loudly, LinkedIn closed its API quickly – to both apps. What if the “awesome” announcement was an integration of Facebook and LinkedIn? After all, they are the two big ones in the social space.

–    Another big thing could be a “Triangle”, with Facebook, Microsoft and Apple all together.

I would definitely call awesome an announcement about Facebook being implemented into the next iPhone5. After all, each of them has a good reason for competing with Google this hard battle -and a triangle, on a funny note, would be the perfect opponent to Circles 😉

  • Google’s Chrome OS didn’t make Microsoft its best friend
  • Google’s Android apps are Apple’s apps biggest enemy
  • Google’s “Plus” social network now seems a much serious obstacle to Facebook’s growth

While waiting for the announcement to become official and for the next big things coming to our browsers and our phones, it’s good to consider that all that happened during these past 4 years of strategic partnership between Facebook and Microsoft, and all that Google and Apple made during these past 4 years,  are depicting an interesting scenario for a number of markets, not only the social networks one:

–    the advertising market – think about how Facebook has changed it and how Google+ can add our personal habits to all already know information about our searches, all company websites traffic and all other G-apps that we use every day- and don’t forget about related implications on all those sectors who are increasingly “socializing” their marketing strategies. A lot has been said about Facebook and privacy: shall we worry about Google and privacy? Google may know too much about us: our circles, how we influence them, what we look for, how we purchase, where we click, how our websites are performing and what are our Internet habits, other than our life habits, what are the files we share for work and for fun, what we like to play and what we want to read. Think about applying advertising to Sparks and to Circles we influence. G+ may be 1984.

–          the mobile phones market – once upon a time there was RIM’s Blackberry, whose aim was to increase workers’ productivity, and today the mobile war is moving to Apple’s OS and Android, with Microsoft gaining shares, with less focus on productivity and more on internet traffic (on social networks… somehow killing productivity). Don’t forget about mobile carriers and their increased revenues coming from data. Here the battle is more interesting between Google and Apple.

–    the OS market, with Google launching its Chrome OS in 2008 and openly declaring war to Microsoft (and Apple)

–    the app development and gaming market – just think about Facebook’s revenues with Zynga and about the recent announcement that Google+ will soon launch games on its platform, not to mention Microsoft’s Live meeting gaming platform. Did you know people on Facebook install 20 million applications every day?

–    the social networks market – just think about MySpace. Or just about Facebook’s revenues. Then add Google and Apple’s Ping. And don’t forget about LinkedIn and Twitter.

–    the cloud: Google did not invent it, but definitely contributed to make it become one of the biggest thing under the spotlight. Apple recently spoke about the iCloud. Microsoft’s Office 365 is there too.

Whatever it will be, we will surely be impacted. Not sure about you, but I am happy I am here witnessing these happenings.

These are my thoughts. What’s your take?


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