Facebook is a behemoth that seems to show no sign of slowing down. After bolstering their instant messenger services to take on What’sApp and recently adding the Stories functionality as a slight to Snapchat, they’ll seemingly stop at nothing to try to see of any of the challenger social brands.
Why is this? Typical academic management literature would say focus on your core competency. The game has changed though. Nowadays, it’s all about consumption and Facebook is the king of the pack at getting you to consume as much as possible within their platform. They know that their future ad revenue depends on you being in the Facebook platform. After all, if you go elsewhere on the internet to play, consume, or chat then you’ll get served ads where someone other than Facebook is benefiting. They definitely don’t want that!
They’re hungry though. They’re not content killing off just other social media sites: they want to kill off apps and here’s why:
Mobile gaming is huge business.There’s a definitive shift with the move to mobile towards gaming on the move. Certainly the big consoles are suffering from this revolt. In an industry worth $99.6bn, screentime and owning the user is king. Gaming is as much about tube time and being on the bus as it is being in front of a 4K screen at home.
Because it sees everything, Facebook has noted this and moved aggressively. It announced in November the launch of fully featured HTML5 games directly within Messenger. This means that Facebook can now provide a gaming platform directly within its infrastructure. For those wanting to get a mobile gaming hook, they can do so while chatting to their friends and checking out the latest CAT FAIL videos.
Ultimately this is a massive finger up to the respective app stores, and also app developers and publishers. This is huge as it’s also building a native co-op multiplayer element into what is the world’s second biggest messaging service — Facebook Messenger. As 5G is just around the corner, processing power without smartphones gets better and web compression continues to exponentially improve — you can only see that their ability to deliver rich, interactive gaming experiences within the Facebook platform looks set to explode over the coming months and years.
Facebook has bet big on chatbots. Mark Zuckerberg famously said that chatbots are the new apps. Launching a number of different APIs and tools for developers, Facebook has made it ridiculously easy for botmasters and developers to reside their bots within the Facebook platform. Chatbots enable users to speak directly to brands and movements that they care about and get a level of interaction that apps inherently struggle with.
The one sided nature of apps and push notifications is definitely a limitation as we move into seemingly even more social landscapes built on interactive messaging. Chatbots overcome this by giving a two way chat process that’s fully controlled by brands, that’s scalable and able to grow and develop over time. Only 12 months in there are already bots by Starbucks and British Airways — part of a Facebook bot bonanza that features over 30,000 bots already.
Again, by Facebook making moves to host as many chatbots as possible within their ecosystem, they’re making their users sticky. They’re looking at chatbots as being a way to keep people in the Facebook Matrix that little bit longer before venturing outside of the service and starting to consume media and content elsewhere.
Don’t forget, Google and Microsoft are betting big on bots too, so from a competitive perspective Facebook is striking while the iron is hot and using their social strength to outdo the competition within their messaging product.
What does all this mean
You have two major areas of the internet that are native within Facebook. HTML5 games have been around for many years and have experienced huge growth and are set to keep growing. By augmenting them with an area like chatbots that’s just starting to develop into a huge digital opportunity, they’re spreading their bets cleverly on two pieces of tech that will be here for the long haul. Supporting them not only on the Facebook platform, but within messaging services (which is where many of the millennials spend a huge amount of time, make decisions with friends and generally go about their business) is a clever strategic move from Facebook. Only time will tell whether it’s successful in its quest to take over the whole of the internet.
You can definitely foresee that this will kill off more than just a few burgeoning social sites. Apps are going to take this move very seriously and it will be interesting to see whether there’s another strong wave of app development, or whether devs and bot makers will look to developing directly on the Facebook platform as being the best way to scale quickly and monetize their offerings in the near future.