After 10 years: What's next for Facebook?
After 10 years, Facebook has etched itself out as the premiere social network on the planet. People have found it the prime place to connect with family and friends, share photos, message and brag about life accomplishments to former schoolmates.
But where next? We take a look at some potential landmarks for the social networking giant as it marches on, and specifically some of the more immediate events that will start to shape its next decade.
Facebook's reliance on its mobile apps becomes clearer quarter after quarter. On the company's latest earnings call in January, Facebook said mobile usage surpassed the web for the first time. It had 945 million monthly mobile active users, an increase from 680 million in the same quarter of 2012. As for mobile daily active users, they reached 556 million on average in December, a 49 per cent year-on-year increase.
Overall, 1.228 billion people accessed Facebook monthly from all of its platforms, with mobile accounting for a big proportion.
With an influx of users, creating mobile apps that enhance user experience has become Facebook's focus. It tried and failed with its Facebook Home experience, but now it's about highlighting content in a more effective way. The company released its Paper app in the US and on iPhone to test interesting controls mechanisms built into the app that allow you to explore the content with more "natural movements" that could maybe find their way into the main Facebook app overtime.
The Paper app was the first product to come out of Facebook Creative Labs. It will be followed by other new apps that "support the diverse ways people want to connect and share". Facebook told Pocket-lint that some apps out of Creative Labs "will be early stage, and some will be more polished. Facebook Creative Labs is a space to explore and to create new experiences – whether you want to share with a single person, a group of people, your friends, or everyone."
Of course, Facebook will also continue boosting its mobile ecosystem with its Messenger and Poke apps. As for Facebook Home, the company won't tell us exactly what it has planned, but right now it's evident the ecosystem is seriously lacking engagement.
Three words: the adult effect. As more adults have found their way to Facebook, teenagers - once the social network's bread and butter - have begun to flee. In October, Facebook CFO David Ebersman acknowledged this, saying: "Youth usage among US teens was stable overall from Q2 to Q3, but we did see a decrease in daily users partly among younger teens."
"What we’ve learned from working with 16 to 18-year-olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried," a Global Social Media Impact study said. "Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with it. Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives."
The drop in teen usage will probably continue at Facebook, as other social options like Snapchat, Instagram (which, luckily for Facebook, it owns), and Twitter become more enticing - at least until the adults find their way to those, as well.
Facebook hasn't highlighted its solution for bringing the youth back. It's probably just happy seeing increased usage levels, even if it's from the older crowd.
Video advertisements in the timeline are Facebook's next big money move, as pleasing the shareholders is its focus after going public.
In December, the company introduced video advertisements that users won't need to click to see play. They will automatically begin playing when a user scrolls down their timeline, without the sound, but whether they like it or not.
Video advertisements are Facebook's way of getting ads to more users.
In August, Facebook CEO Mark Zukerburg announced Internet.org - a plan to bring the entire world online (with mobile in mind). Some 2.7 billion people – just over one-third of the world's population - currently have access to the internet and Internet.org wants to bring the internet to the next 5 billion people.
"Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect," Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said. "There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy. Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it."
Facebook has partnered with Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung to "develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilise industry and governments to bring the world online".
Facebook and the six partner companies didn't provide a deadline for when they want the entire world to be connected.
Instagram and pressure from Snapchat
While teenagers are deserting Facebook, they're going over to Instagram to share their photos with friends. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, says half of its more than 150 million monthly active users are on the service daily to stalk friends and show off their latest selfies.
At the same time, Snapchat is putting pressure on Instagram. Instagram had to roll out its own private photo messaging feature within its app to combat Snapchat, but it doesn't seem to be working. The company hasn't said too much about usage.
To capitalise on the influx of users, in December, Instagram began to place advertisements in the form of photos within users' feeds. They have been met with a negative response from users who don't like their photostream interrupted.
In the future, it's presumed Facebook will use Instagram as its way of attracting youth, and probably won't slow down on the advertisements to make money off them.