WhatsApp is the future; Facebook is history…

tl;dr or Summary: I have argued for some time that Facebook is going to be disrupted: Facebook was the huge winner of Web 2.0 but doesn’t really fit the mobile age. They still have the advantage of a huge user base, but the primary functions of FB — photo and video sharing or text communicating — are better performed on smartphones by specialized apps developed for mobile. In my opinion, the purchases of Instagram and now WhatsApp is an acknowledgement that Facebook itself shares that vision!

Disruption: The model of disruptive innovation (Clay Christensen) is a new platform, technology or business model that results in a new product or service that seems more basic than the current market leader. The market leader ignores the new product/service too long and it evolves to become the new market leader. Think Mainframes/minis/PCs or the array of memory devices for computers…

Mobile is a new platform. Instagram or Vine are more basic than FB but are better as sharing pics or videos on mobile; Twitter or the more basic message apps are better at texts. Already I see my students moving from FB to Instagram, Vine, Snapchat and Twitter…

According to the model Facebook should be overwhelmed by some combination of Instagram and either Twitter or a more simple message service like WhatsApp. The big twist here is that FB has acquired Instagram and now WhatsApp before they ate Facebook’s lunch.

I hate to say it (in fact I REALLY hate to say it!) but if I am right this makes Zuckerberg a truly exceptional business leader. One of the factors that makes disruptive innovation so deadly to traditional market leaders is the unwillingness of the leaders to self-cannibalize their existing business. IBM had to send a team to Boca Raton, far away from headquarters, in order to even get a foothold in the PC business… Blockbuster held on to their stores…

Zuckerberg is, in my opinion, investing heavily in companies very well-positioned to take Facebook’s business. Exceptional!

(I have a theory of a large niche market that Facebook will eventually be limited to… I will write about that in a later post…)

 What is YOUR opinion:

  • Are WhatsApp and Instagram the future of what WAS Facebook?
  • Is Zuckerberg the truly exceptional leader who embraces disruptions?
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8 Responses to WhatsApp is the future; Facebook is history…

  1. Miha says:

    Nice post. I think the platform concept clarifies a lot of what is going on in Social media. It is definitely a way o handle this. However, I would extend this with the “characteristics-based model”. For instance, several dimensions will be important to keep up with the pace of sustaining disruptions due to the technical, competences of either Social media providers and its users that eventually defined the characteristics. Of course, Mark Zuckerberg is leveraging the “Facebook-ecology” to diversify to other, but connected apps – on the same platform? Indeed, his work is on spot. However, I am wondering, will he be able to follow the evolution of this? So far he did. However, it appears that evolution of Social media follows the continuum from reproduced to adopted to emergent. Facebook nicely demonstrates that. Firstly, it was only about commenting face book dormitories of Harvard university, etc Then it was adopted and reproduced and combined with several new functions, etc which is now emerging into whatever will comes next. So far so good. But what is interesting here is that this continuum will emerge into several ways. Maybe new platforms with its own breed of functions, eventually apps? For instance, the case of virtual teams (e.g. http://spee633-spring09.wikispaces.com/file/view/emergent+states.pdf) may bring interesting combination with the opportunities that Social media enable or will enable in the future of WEB 3.0. Therefore, I am wondering, if we are now in the emergent phase, will Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook be able to overcome every part of this emergence and how will we know what is the right one ? Who new that Apple would be such a competitor in a mobile phone business or did we knew that Google would enter building drive-less car etc. However, what we know is that most of this is enabled by the public sector innovations… So, where is evolution going to continue? In sum, it is indeed interesting to see how is Facebook incentivizing and motivating the future developer’s in this emergence of private sector startups that bring current or future users to the court yard of Facebook-ecology :)

  2. Pingback: The Jetson and the 2nd machine age | The CO-CREATION Project

  3. Emeka says:

    For Mobile, I think whatsapp is the future. I’m yet to see a better and easier way to communicate on the go. Whatsapp is very well positioned and was just on the verge of ‘eating facebook’s lunch’ (or at least just having a bite). I think Mark is a smart guy for Making that move. Well, time will tell. Great post btw, I’m glad you shared this.

  4. elkement says:

    My impression is that specialized platforms are on the rise: medium.com for long-form writing, smugmug.com for images, and messaging apps … instead of social networks or blogging platforms that try to be all things to all people.
    The funny thing is that (I think) without the pioneering work of the all-purpose platforms users probably wouldn’t know they desire the specialized ones: Such as bloggers starting blogging and WP and trying to make the layout cleaner… or users starting tweeting of chatting on Facebook and who discover they only want to send message without the “clutter”.

    • Gary Schirr says:

      Interesting point Elke!

      I view the trend as lean apps designed for mobile… But as you note they are also specialized and do tasks better – not just on a smaller screen.

  5. Noelle says:

    I hate to say it right there with you, but Zuckerberg is clearly a thought leader in business and the social media platform. And it’s a good thing for us marketers. Giving us the ability to reach 1,000’s + potential customers. I’m sure he has many well educated, and paid, advisors. Regardless, he is one smart cookie eating them before they eat him. Like your perspective, Gary!

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