Is Facebook the new internet and how soon before Microsoft tries to buy it ?

A question for you. When was the last time you surfed the net ? Can you remember when you just clicked around looking to discover new sites or a site to occupy your time ? Now ask yourself when was the last time you sat on your couch or laid in bed clicking the remote looking for something to watch on TV.  Finally, how long do you regularly spend  on Facebook ?  How much time do you spend checking out your Wall, your friends’ Wall and hopping from profile to profile checking people out ?

If you are like most, you kill more time hopping around on Facebook than you do exploring the Net.  IMHO, while good old TV remains the ultimate, passive cure for boredom at home, Facebook is now where we kill time at work, on our mobile devices or while at home with the TV  on.

Everything that the net was 5 or more years ago, Facebook is today.

The interesting thing is that Facebook knows it.  Slowly but surely they are extending their tentacles into traditional websites, mobile apps (android/iphone/Ipad) and soon your HDTV .

It started with Facebook Connect.  It extended with search from inside the Facebook Platform.  Now they are accelerating their extensions through Virtual Currency (a future goldmine as it extends to business), allowing websites to add a Like button with user pictures through a simple widget and much much more. In other words, your favorite website doesnt know it yet, but Facebook is in the process of annexing  it.

Brilliant in its simplicity. Facebook is putting out trojan horse after trojan horse and no one seems to care.  The only thing FB has not done is create a  mobile operating system ala Android/Iphone as a platform for applications.

Why would Facebook create a mobile operating system ? For the same reason Google did. For the same reason that Apple banned Flash and other meta platforms from the Iphone.  The mobile  operating system is the ultimate trojan horse for billions of devices.  If you can create a mobile operating system that phone manufacturers adopt and that becomes a  popular platform for application development, you have hope of controlling your own destiny.  If you are just an application on someone else’s operating system and perceived as a threat you can be “Flashed”.  Does Facebook have a choice but to create a mobile operating system ?

It wont be long, if it hasnt already happened that Google and Apple will see Facebook as a unique threat to their future.  Apple has some level of connection to its customer/users, Google has minimal if any connection to their users. Facebook knows more than all of us like to admit about its users. They have our personal information, our pictures, our friends, our family members, our employers and business associates all in a database and they are extending that information base to what we like on sites outside the Facebook platform.  Plus they are creating their own currency.Just as important is the fact that we are progressively spending more time on Facebook than we are sites and applications that Apple and Google can control .  That is a threat to Apple and Google.

It wasnt all that long ago that the concept of Apple excluding Flash from its mobile platform would have been laughable. Its not any longer. Both Apple and Google have to see Facebook as the greatest threat to their futures. The question is what do they do about it and how does Facebook respond ?

Unlike Google and Apple, Facebook doesnt have 10s of billions of dollars in cash to subsidize development and distribution. They can’t outlast a direct assault from Apple or Google.

Enter Microsoft. Already a shareholder.  Already with a mobile and desktop operating system /development platform. Most importantly, already with billions in cash and the capacity to pay 15 or 20 Billion dollars or more to acquire Facebook.

There is no doubt that this is NOT the direction that Facebook wants to go. They want to remain independent. But just as Apple and Google quickly turned from friend to foes, Facebook will soon be the object that both of those companies see in the rearview mirror.  I dont see either Apple or Google as being suitors to buy Facebook. That isnt their style. On the other hand, its straight out of the Microsoft playbook. If you cant beat them or outlast them, buy them.

Time will tell, but there is no question that Facebook is quickly becoming the biggest threat to the futures of Apple and Google

82 thoughts on “Is Facebook the new internet and how soon before Microsoft tries to buy it ?

  1. Pingback: Is Facebook the New Internet « Ambrosia For Heads

  2. google is the one that should buy it.
    They would have more to gain. esp now.

    Comment by mverinder -

  3. Who’s to say Facebook won’t become the next Myspace? Gone with the wind, something better comes along tomorrow.

    Comment by rombe3jr -

  4. Mark, your correct about the social networking wars however very disappointing to see you think Facebook is more than a fad as they are not the complete package. Since the early 90’s on the Chrysalis BB we both know better and I found this blog from a article I read on which I found from Google when searched for “Mark Cuban investments.”

    If you wanta make a social networking tool that will cause them all to dump in their pants, and then beg to buy it off ya, drop me a line sometime and we’ll have lunch while I draw it out on a whiteboard for you.


    I’m actually free the week of 5/17 so far.

    Comment by slp4hire -

  5. FB is the new top social networks the reason why i say that cause everyone that i know have a facebook. the other day i was networking with someone the person was at least 43 yrs of age and i ask if they is anyway i could contact you he say yea look me up on so yea it is the popular social media out there. for business, marketing, and social network. if you like to get great information on how you could promote for free on facebook def check out

    Comment by topfitbooks -

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  8. The real question is whether or not Facebook is the new e-mail.

    Comment by josephwesley -

  9. Facebook isn’t now and never can be the internet largely because real men don’t use Facebook.

    Comment by tadbanyon -

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  12. Facebook would be a great investment for Microsoft and help to gain market share althought like any networking site (myspace) may decline and be replaced

    Comment by dallasrealestatebroker -

  13. I think comparing Facebook to Flash on mobile devices is inaccurate. Facebook is a network and users will dictate that mobile devices support it…rather, mobile devices that do not support it will be at a competitive disadvantage. Flash however is a replaceable implementation of a very specific type of technology from a closed vendor.

    As far as application hosting in the context of mobile devices, I think Facebook will make it a point to thrive on open standards and to that end I think you’ll be able to thank Google for providing the infrastructure for Facebook to prosper. Facebook will not get into the mobile OS game, but I do see them maybe partnering with existing vendors for branding.

    Comment by siegelem -

  14. Google’s stronghold is that it can create structure from content that lacks structure over a massive scale. That was the piece required to generate mainstream critical mass on the internet.

    The important trend that isn’t touched on here is that the web is becoming more structured every day…Facebook has thrown it’s hat into this movement by allowing structured tagging via Open Graph. Granted it is a baby step. We’ll assume that more baby steps will follow.

    Ultimately, the more the web is structured the less people will rely on unstructured crawlers (google) and obscure relevancy algorithms (pagerank) for content retrieval (search). Facebook’s graph at that point will not only benefit from structured content but will also provide socially qualified (the best kind) discovery of content. Google’s market share in search will decline.

    Comment by siegelem -

  15. I’m tired of having my life monitored and data mined. Someone offer me a way out and I’m there…. All of a sudden, being a luddite doesn’t seem so unreasonable.

    Comment by smucoxmba -

  16. IF Mr. Zuckerberg does decide to sell FB – what are the implications pertaining to acquisition of the proprietary personal profiles and information contained therein? The behavioral data of 500 million users? Stunning.

    Comment by MediaEngineer -

  17. Pingback: Armchair CEO » Blog Archive » Cuban says Facebook is the internet – I agree

  18. So, so sensitive that you can’t post an honest criticism? For shame. That’s OK, because only the truly dimwitted would agree with you. You engage in a public forum but choose to censor responses that call into question your overall track record on these matters? All that money and you still can’t buy heart.

    Comment by sinisterx -

  19. I don’t see Microsoft buying Facebook. Facebook is too trendy of a product and idea for Microsoft. They will not risk FB falling to the wayside in a few years like MySpace did. Somebody will create something that is better, and more efficient than FB and then it will go away. This is the way of the internet… Google is about the only internet application that I don’t see being challenged, just because they have pretty much monopolized the internet. Between Adwords, Adsense and their Page Rank – they own the internet and how people do business.

    I don’t think Microsoft has any interest in something like FB unless they can prove that it will be around for a long time.

    Comment by jamakmfg -

  20. Pingback: Is Facebook a Threat to Apple and Google? |

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  24. There’s a potential flaw in your argument.

    Apple and Google have choices: (1) spend billions to destroy Facebook; or (2) spend 15 to 20 billion or more to buy Facebook.

    Microsoft also has choices: (1) spend 15 to 20 billion or more to buy Facebook; or (2) sit back and enjoy the show as Apple and/or Google spend THEIR billions to destroy Facebook.

    Microsoft’s #2 is a lot more fun, plus Ballmer can take the billions he saves, and fill a big room with thousand dollar bills. Then he can let the MS board roll around naked in the pile to celebrate when Facebook dies, or when MS scoops up a wounded Facebook for 1-5 billion.

    Also: The secret to annexing my Web site is not getting me to put a “simple widget” on it; it’s getting me to invest a lot of development time and dollars. Apple is executing on that much better.

    – Jim

    Comment by jimmydada -

  25. Pingback: Google Brushes Off Microsoft-Facebook Docs Threat | eWEEK Europe UK

  26. I would *love* to see Microsoft buy Facebook! It would level the playing field in a number of ways. First of all, Steve Ballmer will send that arrogant snot Zuckerberg into deep space where he belongs. Second, the combination of Bing and Facebook will finally take Google down to Earth and make them responsive to customers. I don’t see any effect on Apple from a Microsoft buyout of Facebook, though. It’s hard to predict how Apple will evolve when it’s so much of a one-man show, with the man in question on his second liver.

    There’s one huge fly in the ointment for Facebook. People aren’t going to be allowed to use Facebook at work *unless* their job role *directly* interfaces with customers or *qualified* prospects. Allowing general Facebook usage inside a medium-to-large business is a recipe for disaster, and no sensible enterprise will allow it.

    All of this leaves the question of Twitter. They’re a rare bird – part open source project, part ad platform and part public service messaging utility. They’re not really a marketing platform in the same sense as Facebook, although they’d like to be, I’m sure. I’d like to see someone buy Twitter, but I don’t think it’s a good fit for either Google or Microsoft. I think it would be a good fit for Comcast, but they took on NBC. Verizon or AT&T would also be good fits – Twitter’s really a communications company.

    Comment by znmeb -

  27. Pingback: Goose and Maverick Agree on the Facebook Thing : Beyond Search

  28. In response to ShastaPhil, I would ask how old you are? And before you get offended, I don’t care how old you are, but the early adopters are college age, younger, or recent college graduates. This age group is 100% on Facebook, 100% of the time that they have free. They might be watching TV, but they’re still surfing Facebook. With that said, this age group will mature and carry their habits with them. Just like the people who grew up with e-mail are now an e-mail generation. As this happens, Facebook will be more and more important, and more and more older folks will pick it up. That’s my prediction.

    Comment by josephwesley -

  29. There is no end-all, be-all here. Facebook works because it took all of the good things about MySpace and incorporated it into a model that didn’t allow for obscene customization (read: load times). It works through sheer mass and momentum. If no one was there, nobody would care.

    “Facebook’s not the new Internet. Google is the new nicotine.”

    I believe this to be wrong. Google has done wonders in creating shortcuts in internet functionality, but at the end of the day you’re more likely to view Gmail as business, FB as personal life.

    I think it’s likely that FB branches off, IPO’s and continues along the current path without outside assistance. Microsoft would smother it, Google would have a very hard time incorporating it, and Apple would not know what to do with it.

    Actually, now that I’ve said that it would actually make sense for all three to go in on it together as an alliance of sorts. Not going to happen, but it should.

    Comment by chrisyoura -

  30. Pingback: Who Is Going To Be The First To Buy Facebook? Could It Be Microsoft? | The Blade by Ron Schenone, MVP

  31. Meh. I have been leaving a fingerprint on the Internet since 1994 when I was still convincing people that it would really take hold. Every few years something like FB happens, and every time it does someone that considers themselves an expert says ‘this is the new Internet.’

    If you walked through a computer commons five years ago it was people surfing MySpace profiles.

    Facebook won’t go away, but it’s already served its purpose.

    Comment by elstavon -

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  33. Well mark I never Thought of it that way. I have always really respected your opinion. I think that is just a possibility of happening not a definitely going to happen scenario. Microsoft could make the money back over time but as far as I know the Facebook business is not a billion a year money making plan!! As in slim profit margin. And I personally dislike Microsoft for making it all about profits and less about experience remember Vista!!

    Comment by skykid2 -

  34. I have a facebook account that I visit about once every week or two, unless I get a notification in my email about some activity on my account, (sort of like my MySpace accounts).

    I use Google constantly; 4 Gmail accounts, Google Docs, picasawebalbums, iGoogle, Maps, Images, News, You Tube, Blogger, sometimes Chrome, and, of course, Google search.

    I have 4 browsers, but FireFox is the best by far, in all catagories.

    For the most part, I do this with an iMac,a Mackbook, and soon, an iPad.

    I guess I am just wondering, how is facebook a threat?

    Comment by shastaphil -

  35. Pingback: The Future of Facebook » Growth Savvy

  36. Facebook is owning right now. However, I don’t think that they will sell. From a financial standpoint it makes sense for the owners of Facebook to sell to the highest bidder, but I don’t think that Zuckerburg and those around him will do it. He seems to be of the same mindset of Mr. Craiglslist. Also, I don’t think another platform will push FB out of the way anytime soon the way that FB pushed MySpace out of the way. Facebook is owning. The game now is incorporating what you do into FB.

    Comment by josephwesley -

  37. Pingback: Is Facebook The New Internet And How Soon Before Microsoft Tries To Buy It? (GOOG, MSFT, AAPL) |

  38. Pingback: Is Facebook the new internet and how soon before Microsoft tries to buy it ? (Markcuban/blog maverick) « My Blog

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  40. Pingback: Could Facebook Buy Palm? « My Blog

  41. Great minds think alike. 😉 I posed this last night and wrote it up this morning:

    “The list of potential bidders and partners for Palm is dwindling each day. With the recent rise of mobile social networking activities, perhaps Palm needs to consider a non-traditional partnership by turning its webOS handsets into Facebook phones.”

    Comment by Kevin C. Tofel -

  42. Right on, Mark, as usual. Key to all this is the mobile web – wondering what control will be exerted over the mobile web itself. Will native apps or access through mobile web browsers end up being more important?

    Comment by mobileswany -

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  44. Facebook’s annual revenue per user- $1 Billion / 500 million users = $2.00 a year or $0.005 a day from each user.

    Comment by Tim Cohn -

  45. I spend a lot of time on the Internet, reading, researching. I go to Facebook to catch up on the status of friends who don’t happen to get in touch with me personally.

    The gift that Google gave back to society is access to the world, information that previously might have only remain locked up in some University classroom or a foreign country research lab. I am glad Facebook has let me find old high school chums. But what is the value to society?

    Facebook is starting to feel a lot like the Wall Street of the Internet: a bunch of white guys trying to make a lot of money off of my personal data. F* that!

    Facebook will never replace the Internet in MY household.

    Comment by mcneildeanna -

  46. I’m missing how FB is a threat to Apple?

    Google I understand, but they don’t seem to be a natural competitor to Apple. Can you embellish a bit more on this?

    Comment by georgemorris -

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  56. Well, here is another major entertainment medium being infiltrated not mentioned above; MS has already done this with it – Makes plenty of sense of course… social networking king + huge active gaming community (more mainstream by the day, and incredible entertainment $$$ constantly pumped into it) = lots of possibilities and potential profit. Of course, this one seemed more bait to entice users to upgrade their accounts, but even without it there is so much being done between the two; integration of social networking and gaming seems to be one of the current big trends. Perhaps MS doesn’t have to buy them; maybe there will be money enough in the bastard offspring of the two…

    Comment by bucfanpaka -

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  59. But Mark, I thought the internet was dead and boring?

    Comment by mateo2 -

  60. Google is still the hub to the entire internet, it’s like grand central station or JFK airport whereas facebook is like your apartment and neighbourhood. There should be a war between google and facebook in the future seeing how facebook is adding more and more content to its page.

    Apple is still in the business of selling pc’s and they’re great at that. Ipod, Iphone, Ipad, Imac. And their app store is a great platform for finding cool things to do with your apple personal computer. You can have google and facebook on your apple, but not the other way around. If you want to see convergence in the works look no further than the apple pc’s.

    Overall I have more trust in apple than google and facebook. They’re in the business of selling hardware and have an established base of customers. Facebook still has a negative image that needs to change and google seems to be doing too many things at once (trying to be the internet) and that may be its downfall.

    Comment by antonchan -

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  63. I wrote about all this 2 years ago (that Facebook will become Google’s true competition)…blog post if you care…

    Comment by andyfinkle -

  64. Pingback: Facebook Or Twitter, Surfing Or TV? | The Eye

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  66. Yahoo is a dark horse here.

    Comment by Michael F. Martin -

  67. Normally I agree with you but not here. As you mentioned, FB is a time waste.With that being at it’s core, I don’t see it becoming the backbone of the web as you imply. IMO productivity will be the driver for the foreseeable future. Cloud based productivity tools and platforms (ie. Chrome OS, Google Aps) should gain momentum and of course search(MS- Bing. I think they have there eye on the ball already.

    FB is a phenomenon but still “The Next Big Thing” away from losing being at the top of the curve of its product cycle.

    Comment by fandango40 -

  68. Interesting. I think Mark and the blog commenters are a little behind the curve on this.

    From what I can see, Facebook doesn’t know where it’s headed, which may be a little hyperbole. The fact is, Facebook is creating the experience as it goes, on the fly. Nothing like Facebook, on its scale, has ever existed. They are making smart decisions and getting the job done faster than anyone else. They have 400 million users. They’ll probably make some money doing it. Not too shabby. But their value is currently tied up in “potential.”

    If you’re looking for revolution, look at how Google is ACTUALLY becoming the new internet.

    Google has developed an OS for mobile, they are working on a cloud-based OS for desktop machines (which aren’t going anywhere despite the hype surrounding tablets) and they are creating high-speed networks in mid-sized cities across America. Google is not only trying to displace the Microsofts and Apples of the world by creating a futuristic cloud-based OS, they are building the network too, thereby displacing the telecoms.

    OS and network bandwidth are currently the tech hurdles facing business on the Internet, not content. Facebook is a content delivery mechanism. Like the cigarette for nicotine. If bandwidth is the primary problem for content deliverers — which it is — then the Facebooks, MySpaces, Twitters, LinkedIns, ChatRoulettes, et. Al. will be shortly following Google into the Brave New World “aka – Mid-sized cities” asking Mother, May I?

    Facebook’s not the new Internet. Google’s the new nicotine.

    Comment by migrasto -

  69. Don’t worry Mark, we will still leave FB to read your blog.

    Comment by agsmth -

  70. It wouldn’t surprise me if Microsoft bought Facebook.

    Facebook is to social what Microsoft Office is to software. You’ve got to have it because everyone else does. But nobody really wants it.

    And Facebook’s byzantine privacy settings are like Viet Cong booby traps. You need to structure a decision chart just to navigate a jungle hell of privacy settings. One misstep and you’re bleeding your personal information at the bottom of a bamboo spike pit.

    I hope Microsoft does buy Facebook. Open Source people rail against Gates, Inc. but all he did was sell software that helped you do your job. Ask yourself what Facebook is selling to be worth billions?

    Maybe Microsoft will be more above board.

    Comment by sudojudo -

  71. No I don’t think twitter is much a threat like Facebook, Twitter isn’t that personal, it will be harder to get information that Facebook can get with it’s supper organized information about users.

    About Microsoft buying Facebook, from articles I read and videos, I can predict that Zuckerberg’s ego is against anything like this, and delaying the IPO that much assures my prediction and him telling that FB doesn’t need any money.

    This move was always his target, making FB the center of the WWW and people relaying on FB for anything in there life on the web, so I think which directly relates to Twitter and Google business. I kinda can’t find how Apple is so threatened by FB, maybe if as you said started to look for business that’a outside the social web like Mobile Phones, and I certainly don’t hope so.

    Comment by Snap -

  72. Pingback: Is Facebook the new Internet? |

  73. Nice post Mark – FB has been on Micrsoft’s radar for quite some time. I find it interesting that with 400 million users there are those that doubt Facebook’s staying power. It’s woven into the fabric of so many lives in a way that AOL never acheived or could acheive.

    Mark Kolier –

    Comment by markkolier -

  74. Yes indeed Mark – but will Zuckerberg ever be ready to sell? He should follow your lead and cash out while he’s on top!

    Comment by mediaengineer -

  75. Pingback: Is Facebook the new Internet? « MediaEngineer's Blog

  76. No. Facebook is the new AOL. Let’s not forget AOL was replaced by the open Internet. FB may be jumping the shark…

    Comment by Michael Wolf -

  77. I don’t see the relevance of FB as a threat to Apple. Apple makes their money from HW sales, and their gadgets sell due to a unique mix of closely coupled OS/HW design, aesthetics, and slick marketing. Anything the user wants to do with a Mobile phone or device is a driver for them, so long as their overall design is considered “the hotness”.

    Facebook wont be putting out an OS anytime soon. That undersells what Goog has actually done with Android. You’ll be waiting a long time before you see another “web site” company put out a viable OS, for anything. It remains one of the more remarkable and ambitious things to have happened in quite some time.

    But there is no question Facebook is a huge competitor to Google as a core entity, in terms of relevance, attention, and ultimately ad dollars. FB wants to be independent, but like with, I think we’ll see the partnership between them and Microsoft get more and more entrenched over time. Its a very powerful combo.

    Comment by totalizer -

  78. Facebook’s growth is truly staggering, but it also highlights how difficult it is to remain “King of the Mountain” on the Internet. From Yahoo to Goolge, MySpace to Facebook, IE to Firefox, the switching costs to the consumer are so low, that you better create a damn good prodcut (and keep developing that prodcut) if you want to stay on top.

    Comment by Ben -

  79. Very interesting Mark…I have been saying that Facebook is the new internet for a while now! It is crazy how much information they have on us and as you say their reach is only getting bigger. The next few years should certainly be interesting 🙂 Go IU!

    Comment by jsandifer -

  80. I think your right Microsoft will try and buy it in an attempt to finally have a great web property. Since I don’t think Bing really counts. But I see Facebook going to the wayside just as Myspace did.

    I don’t see FB as a threat to Google and Apple. Facebook will never have a search engine, nor will it ever have a mobile phone, or tablet. Cant a social network coexist with a search engine and appliance maker.

    Comment by illpoint -

  81. Your question should be – is twitter the new internet? Facebook is the new hotmail/gmail.

    Comment by "No Longer Mass Emailing" -

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