On Thursday, Facebook will start its F8 Conference, which is expected to be one of its biggest yet. Based on preliminary reports, two major themes are to be expected: media, and mobile.
On the media front, this is what to expect:
- An ambitious music service. This is the big announcement. Facebook is partnering with basically every music service under the sun, like Spotify, to provide them a framework to let people use their service and share information through Facebook. This could be a boon for the services by allowing them to boost virality and engagement. Down the line, however, Facebook might expect to take a cut of their business.
- Movies and TV shows. Facebook has already experimented with movie rentals through Facebook, and Netflix has said that they would be integrated with Facebook in some way.
- Publishing. Facebook is working with publishing outlets like CNN and The Daily to create special editions of their titles for Facebook. The WSJ is already doing something like this.
- Perhaps a content store and/or an expansion of Facebook Credits. Perhaps this will all be part of a broader media platform for Facebook that might include a content store a la iTunes, through Facebook Credits, whcih would allow Facebook to take a cut of the media consumption on its network. The company is using the unofficial motto “Read. Write. Listen.” to describe those changes and might even introduce a “Want” button for content users want, which would then be spread virally in their social graph.
How to read Facebook’s moves in media. At the eG8 Forum in Paris this year and in other venues, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spelled out his strategic vision for Facebook very clearly: he believes that Facebook’s mission is to insinuate its social sauce into every possible industry, thereby transforming it. And once it does that, Facebook can charge a toll on those industries. The example for this is games: Zynga and others have reinvented gaming on Facebook as a service paid for through virtual goods. Zuckerberg has also clearly stated that, based on current sharing patterns on Facebook, the industry that’s “next” after gaming is media, and particularly music (indeed, games are a form of media).
On the mobile front:
- A new photo-sharing app. TechCrunch uncovered detailed plans and screenshots for a mobile photo sharing app, which is something Facebook must do. Photo sharing is the biggest activity on Facebook, and mobile photo sharing apps are throwing tremendous success, even as we are moving to a mobile-first world. For young consumers, mobile photo-sharing platforms have the potential to become the social sharing platform of choice before Facebook. This is an important battleground.
- Perhaps an improved mobile app and an iPad app. Some speculate that Facebook might introduce new mobile apps, as its existing apps are starting to feel stale, and an iPad app, which still doesn’t exist, despite the success of unofficial third-party apps.
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