I’ve been watching the coverage of the Facebook messaging announcement with interest this week. A lot of the coverage has revolved around a handful of issues. Most of the internet punditry has focused on the following issues:
- The operational mechanics – how the new service will interface or intersect with the various existing forms of communication (i.e., e-mail, instant messaging, sms etc)?
- The privacy issues – do you trust Facebook, which has a spotty record at best regarding privacy issues, with this type of data?
- Adoption rate and how it may or may not be influenced by the two issues above.
Deep down I’m equal parts “business guy” and “tech guy”. I’m certainly very interested in the tech side of this discussion (the “how will this work” outlined in bullet #1 above). But something has been missing from the conversation thus far, and its absence has been gnawing at me. The thing I personally find really interesting is the implications this has for Facebook as a business, and the incredibly powerful IDEA that this move represents from a business perspective. Let us assume for the time being that the launch will be successful and that Facebook Messaging will transform how people communicate. If that is true, then the revenue implications for facebook are GIGANTIC.
In short, Facebook will be creating a massive number of new page views that create the ability for them to sell ads against. I haven’t looked deeply into the numbers , so this may not even count as a thumb-nail sketch. But I have to imagine this means billions and billions of new pages created where NONE existed before. And its being done by creating a new intermediate layer that Facebook controls that sits between existing communication systems and streams. The closest parallel I can imagine (are there others?) are the moves by Google into Gmail. The Google Display Network may be closer in terms of the number of page views, but I think Gmail is a better corollary because those are pages that didn’t exist before Google built the e-mail service.
I find this very IDEA to be bold, exhilarating and wonderfully brilliant all at the same time. Forget what you know about Facebook and privacy for a minute. If someone else came up with this IDEA and executed against it (say Google or Apple) we’d all be gushing. I know I can’t dismiss the privacy issues out of hand, but I’m trying to make a point here.
What are your thoughts? Brilliant? Dastardly? Evil? Other?
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