(Every week, Rocksauce Studios CEO Q Manning will answer your questions about app design, app development and the mobile industry.)
Facebook has hit a few bumps since it went public, but what do you see in the immediate future for the company, especially regarding how they interact with apps?
Even thought Facebook has hit some bumps on the road, we can’t take a negative view this early on because it is just as massive as ever. It’s not hemorrhaging users, there are no viable competitors and there aren’t any other options out there for people. As far as what we do with apps, Facebook is still a great option for sign-ons and a great option for social media and sharing. Facebook seems to be one of those things people love to hate, but it still remains popular and it’s continuing to pick up new users every day in countries all over the world. It will take a major competitor to bring them down and considering how many people are already on Facebook, it’s unlikely that anyone will be able to trump them for years to come.
And speaking of future competition, do you think anyone will ever be able to compete with Facebook? Will anyone ever topple them? Will it be an indie app that gains traction or a major company directing challenging them?
It’s always small things that take the place of behemoths. That’s how it’s always been. Something grass roots come along and people get involved because it doesn’t have the dirtiness associated with large corporations. Eventually, that small thing will become the large corporation they hated in the first place, but that’s just the cycle of how things work. But the truth remains: Facebook still has a massive head start on everyone else and they do continue to innovate. Friendster didn’t do much and MySpace was able to come along, add a few bells and whistles and beat them. Then MySpace was king and Facebook came along and did a few extra things and they took the lead. The idea of a grass roots company creating something vastly different than Facebook at this point feels almost impossible. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but it’s difficult to imagine a small company doing something that they’re not already doing in their vast R&D department. Although, Facebook is currently dealing with a backlash against their connectivity. A smaller company that has less focus on sharing all of your information may be able to gain traction, but it’s a catch 22: eventually, this small company will add more features and become the exact opposite of what everyone wanted it to be. I think Facebook is here to stay. I think they’re a Google. I think they’re a Microsoft. I think they’re an Apple. They’ve reached the level where they ARE social networking.
Facebook has been showing a lot of interest in facial recognition software recently. What does this mean? What can we expect from it?
The big problem with facial recognition software is that you have to wonder why Facebook wants it. The obvious answer is that it’ll allow you to auto-tag videos and photos that you upload. Personally, I don’t see the benefits of that. I’m not sure why Facebook would spend the absurd amount of money they did on Face.com unless they’re just going out and snatching up anything that could help a potential competitor. By buying Face.com, Google can’t buy Face.com. It’s similar to Gowalla…why did Facebook buy Gowalla? We don’t know! We don’t even know why they bought Instagram! Facebook seems more like Yahoo! than Google or Microsoft in their purchasing choices. Yahoo! tends to buy companies for the sake of buying companies, even if it doesn’t fit their business model. Even if they don’t have an immediate use for them, it’s a way of growing their user base down the road. The difference for Facebook is that many of the softwares they buy don’t seem to exist post-purchase. They bought a few social networking applications back in 2010 and they’ve yet to do anything with them.