“…we’re just getting started on our goal of connecting everyone.” — Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook in a blog post today
Now isn’t that interesting. Most people were focused on Facebook’s milestone of 300 million users and cash flow postive (both very important, big things) from its founder’s blog post today, but neither stopped me in my tracks the way the statement above had. Facebook connects people. Like how a telephone or mobile phone company connects people. This is a utility play. When you think about it, a new utility company that sits on the platform that’ll be the world’s global communications system in the future is a pretty nice spot. Now, throw in 300 million customers. It’s enormous. Here’s why. The internet is a communications and information distribution platform that’s here to replace or modify those that are already in our society. This includes television, print media, but most important in this particular scenario, mobile and PSTN telephone (aka, your landline). It is an absolute when scenario that this will happen because it was meant to happen. That means all companies doing business on the old platforms will have to move shop to the internet platform or they will die, and that when this happens everybody will find themselves bumping up against all kinds of new competition. It’s already happening now.
It also means anybody who is sitting on the new platform with an established brand and 300 million active, engaged customers could be in a very nice spot. In a utility play, that means a site like Facebook could have the potential to be a new communications company that could compete with the likes of major telecom. I’m not saying it’s going to play out this way for Facebook — without a solid sense of where the company plans to take itself in the future, that would be hard. But, I do believe there is this opportunity and that means a whole new game for that company. If I were AT&T, I would be noticing this right now. In the past, upstart utility companies aiming to foster communication between people over the internet were primarily via voice (VoIP). They had to approach the market as new telephone companies and plenty of things stood in their way, including traditional telcos who have been able to successfully block the real proliferation of internet-based calling more than most people probably know. However, imagine a company that already has a built audience of 300 million customers that it fosters communications tools over the internet for. Probably wouldn’t be difficult to migrate at least some of them to new formats of communicating via the web, like voice. That’d make Facebook a potential competitor for other companies that provide voice (aka phone) calls, or telecom.
But, before anyone gets excited, there’s something important to remember in this story: Facebook didn’t build the internet platform. The telcos did. In the end, he who owns the pipes will win. However, wouldn’t be surprised to see Twitter or Facebook acquired by a major telecom company, especially now that Google’s moved into voice.
The Telephones - Libertine
I’d be interested in viewing this map if it showed fatal accidents as a function of (1) miles flown (2) flight hours or (3) passenger volume. Something tells me that the map would tell a much different story - perhaps the exact opposite message.
After a quick search, I found that it is much easier to find fatal accident statistics by country than it is to find statistics on flight activity by country. Of course, a lack of information doesn’t justify the skewing of available information…