State of the Social Network War

Facebook might be the biggest social network, but LinkedIn is clearly the stock market’s darling. 

 

While Facebook has been in the news recently for its dropping share price (which perhaps is not a fair reflection of future possibilities as I write in this earlier post), LinkedIn has been quietly going about its job. It has been announcing a slew of features. These include  new company pages, notifications, new mobile features, and Outlook integration.

 

Launching today is our new notifications feature, which will keep you notified in real-time when someone likes what you’ve shared on LinkedIn, views your profile, accepts your invitation, and much more.

 

 

 

 

On iPhone and Android:

  • Get notified: We will keep you notified in real-time when someone likes what you’ve shared on LinkedIn, views your profile, accepts your invitation, and much more.
  • Company pages goes mobile: Find out which connections work at the companies you care about, see recent news and updates from the company, and learn about current job openings.
  • Don’t want your employer to know you’re looking?: We’ve recently added access tojob listings and jobs you may be interested in directly within your mobile update stream.

 

 

Clearly, LinkedIn is doing better on the mobile platform (23% of LinkedIn users use its mobile apps) and on its ability to monetize its user base (for now). This is reflected in the rising share price – this wonderful chart by statista.com clearly shows that LinkedIn is thriving, while Facebook crashes (see the original chart here).

 

Image via Statista.com

 

And what about Google+? Well, this comic by xkcd says it all.

 

Google+

Image via xkcd

Is it really doomsday for Facebook?

Several issues are depressing Facebook’s stock price, but there seems an upside that the market is not tuned in to.

 

Facebook’s plummeting market value has been a major talking point of late. Its share price recently fell to below half of its IPO level and the doomsday forecasts are arriving thick and fast. Most analysts suggest that this is due to a combination of factors – expiry of a moratorium means that insiders are flooding the market with stock; Facebook is barely meeting its revenue and profit guidance numbers; and, the market is adjusting to the ‘real value’ due to reduced future expectations .

 

This article, on TechCrunch, presents three reasons why the future is bleak for Facebook –

Decelerating growth in users, unfavorable change in user mix, and a question mark in ARPU. In the short term, Facebook is certain to grow, but the question of Inferno vs. Paradiso will take quite some time to sort out.

This infographic by statista illustrates the market saturation and user mix problems faced by Facebook:

 

Image via Statista

 

Facebook’s major user growth in the coming years will occur in developing markets – where average revenues per user are traditionally much lower as compared to developed markets. Another major trend is the the movement of users to mobile platforms.

This second infographic by statista makes this more clear:

 

Image via Statista

 

It seems clear that Facebook’s future (or at least future stock price) is dependent upon its ability to monetize its mobile and developing world users. Or is it?

 

A bigger upside depends upon Facebook’s ability to make itself a platform for commerce and creativity. If Facebook can set rules that protect the privacy and security of its billion plus engaged users, while providing an environment within which application developers and entrepreneurs can offer Social network driven, Mobile based, Location triggered services, it can potentially earn billions in revenues through commissions alone. A scene illustrating this viable future is:

 

You are deciding where to get lunch. You launch the FB app, and use the smartphone camera to view a restaurant. The image is augmented by a bubble which states that 78 of your FB friends have recently been to the place, 80% of whom rate it 4+ out of 5. The app also says that if you eat there today, you will get 10% off your bill in the form of FB credits.

 

How does Facebook make real money in the scenario? By taking a cut on the sales of FB credits (for example, $1 = 1 FB Credit, but you can buy 10 credits from Facebook for $11 and sell 10 credits back for just $9).

 

However, these are big IFs and THENs.

Revisiting Prezi: New features for all and free stuff for Edu users

I recently revisited Prezi and set up a new Edu account, which provides the ability to have private, secure content for free (note that Prezi’s created using standard free accounts are public).

Core Features

500 mb Storage Space

Make prezis private to secure your content

Use your own logo instead of Prezi’s

via Pricing | Prezi.

Also noted that Prezi has a new PowerPoint import feature:

There are also new 3D background and fade in zoom features. In case you are wondering what Prezi is all about, either see the short video below:

Or see this slightly longer, but more informative video:

Bottom line: Prezi is an exciting new (ish) information viewing and sharing service based on a freemium model, which is a harbinger of several future trends in information & content discovery. Give it a whirl!

Prezi Logo

Prezi Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apple: finally making a play for riches at the bottom of the pyramid?

Apple’s iPhone 3GS is now available in India for less than 200 USD (Rs. 9999).

Image via Wikipedia

This represents a price reduction of 50% over the past year or so and might signal a change in strategy. Apple might be finally moving to tap the riches at the bottom of the pyramid and trying to gain a foothold in the fast growing smartphone market of India. As this article correctly points out, the iPhone 3GS is still a superior when compared to the low-end Android phones offered to the Indian consumer. Coupled with its ability to upgrade to IOS 6, Apple might finally have a winner.

Or this might just be another ‘inventory clearing exercise’ as Apple readies for the launch of the iPhone 5. Either way, one hopes that increased iPhone sales in India will lead to an improvement in the Apple Experience and service coverage available in India.

Harry Potter ebook model a success?

Pottermore‘s experiment of bypassing the distributors seems to a be a success.

Is this a peek into the future, where successful authors (or their publishers) will bypass platform owners (Amazon, Apple, and others) and directly offer e-versions of their top sellers to customers?

British versions of the Harry Potter series My...

Image via Wikipedia

Despite the wide availability of pirated copies, the ebook versions of the books have been widely successful.

During an interview with Radio Litopia’s “The Naked Book” Wednesday afternoon, Redmayne said Pottermore sold more than $1.5 million worth of Harry Potter books in the store’s first three days online.

via Pottermore Sells $1.5 Million Worth of Harry Potter E-Books in 3 Days – John Paczkowski – Media – AllThingsD.

What is to be seen is if JK Rowling will follow a similar strategy for the sales of her new novel. Though ebook prices have been announced, it is still not clear if the publisher of this book will bypass the Amazon, Google and Apple platforms. A Kindle version is currently available for pre-purchase, but eventually, this link might forward buyers to the publisher’s website.

The Casual Vacancy

480 pages (approximately)

ISBN  9781408704202   (hardback) price £20.00

ISBN  9781405519229   (ebook) price £11.99

ISBN  9781405519212   (audio download) £20.00

ISBN  9781405519205   (CD) price £30.00

via THE CASUAL VACANCY – Little, Brown Book Group.

What makes a tweet go viral?

There is a lot of recent research studies that investigate what factors influence the popularity of memes on social networks. Much of this research analyzes twitter posts and has identified many reasons why certain tweets go viral. These include factors related to the tweet itself (e.g. how controversial the tweet is) and factors related to the tweeters (e.g. number of followers, influence, and frequency of posting). New work says that ‘going viral’ is a random process.

Visualizations of meme diffusion networks for different topics.

This new study uses an agent-based model to study this phenomenon. This model simulates message sharing on a social network and incorporates two key characteristics of such a context: users have limited attention spans and can only view a portion of all tweets.

The predictions of our model are consistent with empirical data from Twitter, a popular microblogging platform. Surprisingly, we can explain the massive heterogeneity in the popularity and persistence of memes as deriving from a combination of the competition for our limited attention and the structure of the social network, without the need to assume different intrinsic values among ideas.

Or in other words, the pattern of twitter memes can be replicated in the absence of tweet or tweeter based factors.  This raises interesting questions regarding the direction of causality – do tweets go viral because of certain factors, or is the popularity of posts on social networks a random process and we find mere correlations in our bid to find explanations. While some say that this correlation versus causation conundrum can be solved only empirically, others say that a controlled, experimental approach is the way to go.

Suppose, Menczer says, that in his study he randomly assigned different colours to each tweet. If red tweets ended up being the most popular, one could argue that colour was a predictive factor for success when in reality the popularity of red-coloured tweets was coincidental.

Read more at  Going viral on Twitter is a random act – tech – 13 April 2012 – New Scientist and Competition among memes in a world with limited attention : Scientific Reports : Nature Publishing Group.

References:

Weng, L., Flammini, A., Vespignani, A. & Menczer, F., Competition among memes in a world with limited attention, Scientific Reports 2, Article number: 335 doi:10.1038/srep00335

Free 3G connection with Android phones sold in India

Reliance Communications, India‘s second largest telecom operator, has announced that all Android smartphones sold in India for the next two years, will come with a free bundled 3G connection (albeit, with a 1GB limited download capacity). This marks the first major competitive move by a telco in this fast growing market segment, to grab market share by providing free connections. This will help moving consumers from the slower and cheaper 2G data connections (which cost 2$ a month for 2.5 gb) to the more pricier 3G connections (which cost $15 a month for 3 gb).

Android currently rules in India’s small, but fast growing smartphone segment. With its large installed base of cellphone subscribers, it offers a huge market opportunity, which Google seems determined to tap.

Image via Economic Times

 

RCOM and Google have entered into a two-year deal according to which all Google-endorsed android mobile devices from companies like Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson and LG will come with the telco’s third generation, or 3G, mobile connection with 1 GB of free downloads for the first six months.

 

Read more at Google-endorsed Android smartphone will come bundled with a Reliance Communications connection – The Economic Times.

Apple to make iOS app development easier than ever?

AppleInsider.com has reported that Apple has filed a patent for a WYSIWYG editor of sorts, that will enable non-programmers to create iOS apps. This proposed digital content authoring tool would use pre-defined app templates to make app creation easy for people who don’t wish to code.

 

In other accompanying art, the filing shows a number of examples of software that could be created with an amateur-friendly content creation tool. One simple example is a game of tic tac toe, another shows a menu from a coffee shop, and a more complex example features the ability to purchase video of live performances from the show “American Idol.”

Creating these applications would be a simplified process in which the user could select a template for their software. From there, they would begin to fill in the pieces and build their own iOS application, webpage, or advertisement.

 

Patent 1

Image via AppleInsider.com

 

While this is still just a patent filing, it does fit in with Apple’s objective of reducing the friction in bringing Apps to the App Store. As building apps becomes easier, a proliferation of localized apps will increase the network of the Apple ecosystem as well as provide a nice launch pad for their (app embedded?) NFC based payment system.

 

Patent 2

Image via AppleInsider.com

 

Read more at Apple wants to make it easy for non-programmers to build iOS apps.