The Network King

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Facebook has just unveiled a vision of augmented reality, in which digital objects and effects are overlaid on images of the real world. This is yet another step in undercutting its rivals, such as Snapchat, who’s missing is to become the camera company for the next generation. Last year, Facebook introduced a version of Stories on Instagram, the fun slide show which was also created by Snapchat, as well as other features that appeared on WhatsApp and Messenger. Mark Zuckerberg understands that in business it often isn’t about who creates the best features, rather who owns the biggest and most engaged network, which in the case of social media is without a doubt Facebook. With every new feature that is introduced and becomes popular with users, such as Twitter’s follower mechanism, Foursquare’s checking in, Vine’s short videos, Periscope and Meerkat’s live video, Facebook or one of its subsidiaries simply copies it. Because that’s what you can do when you own the worlds top 4 largest social networks. Five years ago, Zuckerberg began to acquire and build up future networks including Instagram, which now has 600 million users, WhatsApp, which has more than a billion users as well as its own chat app Messenger that now has a billion users. Even when the features didn’t turn out to be as important as he’d initially thought, it didn’t matter as much because he still succeeded in neutralizing the competitors growth before it became a threat to Facebook. Facebook users are able to enjoy the features of these other social media platforms which allows the company to retain its users and not give them any reason to switch which is precisely what is happening with Snapchat. Even with Snapchats success, it is not taking away Facebook users.

Zuckerberg also previewed new tools to turn Facebook’s built-in camera into a platform that outside developers can add to and improve. Snapchat has made a hit out of augmented reality but now Facebook with advance these ideas and push the technology to the next level. So should it be discouraged to copy the ideas of others? In the tech world, this is quite common and often, in the big scheme of things, makes technology better for everyone. For example, lets take the case of smartphones. Apple created the iPhone, but if Google didn’t copy Apples software and create the Android, and Samsung copy their hardware, smartphones wouldn’t have become really cheap and gain popularity so quickly, and we wouldn’t as a globe be as technologically advanced as we are today.

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One Response to The Network King

  1. sydhavely says:

    Indeed, as you say, innovation is often accompanied by borrowing or in fact “stealing” ideas. Where there is no clear violation of intellectual property, it appears as if that’s how we make progress, or in FB;s case, greater market share. Well done and accurately characterized.

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