Facebook announced their Q3 results last week with all good news including revenue going up by 60% to $2.02 billion. Of this revenue $1.8 billion is coming from advertising and almost half of that from mobile ads. (As you must have noticed, many ads are appearing on our FB pages this year… approximately 1 in 20 posts coming to us as news feed is an advertisementJ).
In September 2012, Mark Zuckerberg had mentioned that building a phone is the wrong strategy for them. With changing dynamics, Facebook understand importance of Mobile platform in its business model and did attempt introducing HTC First (Android device) in April 2013 with preloaded Facebook Home interface. Unfortunately that attempt was a major flop and AT&T had to drop price of HTC First to $0.99 after its debut. There are different opinions on why HTC First failed but one of the reasons is – how many people really want their phones tightly coupled with Facebook?
After failure of HTC First, there were rumors that in June 2013, Mark met Samsung executives to build another Facebook branded smartphone but Samsung denied the offer considering HTC First failure.
According to Wall Street Journal, BlackBerry executives met Facebook last week (October 2013) in San Francisco. Though exact purpose of the meeting is unknown, with current situation of BlackBerry in the market, I am sure BlackBerry executives must not have talked about weather conditions in San Francisco. Possibly both parties must have discussed opportunities to work together and Facebook must have shown interest in acquiring BlackBerry soon.
BlackBerry is cash rich with more than $2 billion in hand, no debt, has patents related to secure networks technology, popular services like BBM, and strong (but fading) brand of keyboard based phone, etc. Analysts predict patents value somewhere in between $ 1-3 billion. BlackBerry is struggling at the moment with declared layoffs, poor sales and must be looking for best possible options to get acquired. There are other players including Lenovo who have already shown interest in them and choosing the right deal is what BlackBerry must be doing at the moment.
Though Zuckerberg had mentioned no interest in building their own phone and decided to focus on partnerships with manufacturers through ‘Facebook Home’ software, with latest revenue numbers on mobile platforms he must be probably rethinking his strategy. Also not to forget that major manufacturers have shown (almost) no interest in ‘Facebook Home’. So having control on mobile hardware is critical to Facebook at the moment.
With these considerations, it looks like we are heading towards Facebook + Blackberry combined phone in 2014 with Social features, secured network, BBM features and business applications all together.
Who needs Facebook phone though? The question remains unanswered…