Social-networking giant Facebook is planning a big reveal tomorrow, holding simultaneous press conferences in the US and UK. But what will Facebook announce? A Facebook phone? Facebook tablet? A serious move into gaming? Here’s what Facebook could reveal tomorrow.
Facebook is the world’s largest social-networking site. It has over one billion members. There’s been a movie about it. It has a controversial history with privacy – and that’s a big deal, especially as it’s sitting on the personal details of a billion people. It’s going to announce something ‘big’ tomorrow, but everything is still shrouded in secrecy.
So what will Facebook do next in 2013 – and what will it mean for you? Here are our top 5 predictions for Facebook’s announcement tomorrow at 18:00 GMT. Remember to check back in later to see how our predictions held up, and tell us what you think in comments below!
The Facebook phone
The Facebook phone is current favourite for tomorrow’s Facebook announcement. With one billion users, and 600 million using Facebook on mobile phones, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has publicly said the future for Facebook is mobile.
Facebook is already deeply integrated with the iOS and Android operating systems powering iPhones and Google-powered phones, but Facebook will want more than that. It has many of the ingredients to make a Facebook phone a success – a strong, loyal ecosystem, an app platform in the shape of Facebook apps and games, and a strong messaging platform including live chat and video.
What it doesn’t have is the hardware. It could partner up with the likes of HTC, or it could equally roll its own Facebook phone hardware, but we’ve have expected to see parts leaks before now, which may be telling that it doesn’t plan on building the whole widget. But, we could well see a branded, always-connected-to-Facebook phone debut tomorrow.
If not a Facebook phone, then a Facebook OS
Facebook isn’t a hardware company – and building hardware is hard. You need to source components, design platforms, develop distribution channels and provide support for a hardware release. Facebook isn’t a hardware company – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t want in on its own Facebook phone operating system.
Facebook is fairly similar to a phone OS. It does messaging, chat, video calls, photo and video uploads, mapping and more – and it has more users than Apple’s iOS mobile platform.
One route is for Facebook to release its own smartphone operating system, much like iOS, Windows Phone or Android. Facebook’s ‘fourth way’ approach would appeal to smartphone makers looking for an edge in a crowded me-to Android smartphone market. It has instant brand traction, and works for Facebook by further tying its users into its ecosystem.
Instagram goes (even) bigger in 2013
Facebook paid $1bn for social photo network Instagram. That isn’t small change – and a $1bn investment will want to see some serious returns and rapid development. Instagram is widely popular – and while Instagram some troubling privacy developments recently – Facebook could be big on the service.
Facebook could reveal more tighter integration with Facebook, or even add it into the Facebook phone or Facebook mobile phone operating system. An even bigger step, considering the rapid wi-fi digital cameras launching – could see Instagram rolled out to the likes of Panasonic, Sony, Nikon and Canon for adding Instagram to all their cameras.
Facebook gets into gaming
Facebook is a haven for gaming. It has been behind many of the popular social games emerging, such as Word With Friends, Farmville and countless others. Social gaming is big business, and the more Facebook could develop revenue streams from its gaming platforms, the better for the company.
One prediction is tomorrow will see Facebook woo larger developers to the Facebook gaming platform, developing a Steam or App Store-like system of paying for and playing games on Facebook that are more graphically rich and able to generate significant revenue.
Will Facebook simply buy something?
OK, so Facebook can’t be looking to buy businesses for its shares, which have been rocky recently, but it is sitting on a large cash pile. It flexed its muscle recently by buying Instagram – but are there other targets it would aim for? An ailing Sony would give it massive reach into the living room, or a video or mobile advertising platform? Maybe we’ll see an investment in search technology as it seeks to extend its reach and add to its billion members?
But what do you think? Let us know in comments below!
Update: Facebook has revealed it’s hand – and it isn’t a phone. Say hello to Facebook Graph Search.