Then there are the persistent rumors that Facebook is buying the Atlas ad serving network from Microsoft. And let’s not forget the possibility that the social giant is trying to get into the ad supported search business, as well.
More than pitting itself agains Apple‘s iOS, these ideas are more directly aggressive towards Google. Could it be that Facebook and Google are both fighting to be the guest for whom Apple’s iOS is the host?
Think about it. Google’s recent batch of apps for iOS virtually add up to an OS onto itself. Facebook could do the same, only different.
Facebook and Google have, in fact, two contrasting paradigms about how to create relevance for users—and advertisers. As Eli Pariser writes in his brilliant book, The Filter Bubble, ”Google and Facebook have different starting points and different strategies—on starts with relationships among pieces of information, while the other starts with relationships among people—but ultimately, they’re competing for the same advertising dollars.”
But despite the fact that Apple may have set production quotas too high for the iPhone 5, iOS users are widely acknowledged to be more valuable users than Android users. And since the name of this game is advertising, it is possible that instead of building its own Android fork OS or phone, that Facebook could be targeting Apple’s OS in the same way Google has.
So while it is possible that Facebook has been “building” its own phone or mobile OS, it’s also possible that what they have built is a set of apps that run on iOS that together become a defacto OS in much the same way Google’s suite of mobile apps do. They could be doing the same for Android, or even Windows Phone or Blackberry 10. Who knows, Mark Zuckerberg could have even rescued HTML5 from under the bus where he threw it last year and the apps could work everywhere.
The point is that a people based mobile experience that intermediates your messaging, your news feed, your games, entertainment and commerce would be different than Google (or Apple’s) version of the same. Personally, it’s the last thing I want, but I’m not who Facebook is after. But really all of the big mobile apps that have incorporated their own web browser within the apps (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) are heading in this same direction, but Facebook and Google are unique in being able to lay claim to all the corners of people’s lives.
The question for tomorrow, and really for Facebook’s future, is what is the benefit to users to see the world and speak to the world through Facebook. We already know what it will do for Facebook.