The Great Facebook Unbundling

8 thoughts on “The Great Facebook Unbundling”

  1. I think it shows lack of Mark Zuckerberg’s abilities as a leader and innovator. He had a great success, no doubt, but I don’t think someone like Steve Jobs would have EVER said, “let’s create a bunch of specific, unique products, and let’s see what people buy”. He KNEW what people wanted and created it for them before they realized they wanted and needed it.

  2. As always, this is a great article. I started thinking about this theme, too awhile back: http://www.charleshudson.net/facebook-mobile-and-discrete-apps-for-core-services

    I think FB has no choice but to unbundle to compete. Routing all traffic and attention to the core app for discrete actions like taking a photo or sending a message will lead to a really cluttered UI and bad consumer experience. The question, though, is whether FB can embrace a model where they think of the core app as a federation of services as opposed to a monolith. Aggressive unbundling will require the default mode for competition in new verticals / areas to be to launch an independent app with a semi-autonomous team. The problem, though, is that by the time they see and understand a threat, it will likely be too late to compete (as was the case with Camera and Messenger).

    The only way I can really see them competing is to have a team or teams of people in the company who are free to launch independent apps that still have connective tissue back to the main app or core FB service. But this startup-within-a-big company approach to competing with consumer startups tends not to work. I don’t see how this ends well for FB.

  3. “So is having the ability to control which things you get notifications for.”

    Big words from Mr. “No, you can’t turn off autoplay video on mobile, and it took us months to let you turn it off on the web client”, and “No, you can’t not see Trending. Who doesn’t want Facebook to be Twitter, too?”

  4. The thing that stands out to me is this: Facebook does not really own the platform. We all thought they did, but unbundling proves this wrong. WhatsApp and Instagram don’t rely on Facebook to exist or succeed.

    This is where the Apple comparison falls short. Zuckerberg may be trying to disrupt his own company, but he’s doing it by buying unrelated services that threaten Facebook, not by building products that extend the platform/ecosystem. This is the conglomerate model, not Apple’s model of creating a very tightly integrated system of devices and services that make possible all the other uses we enjoy. No iOS? No apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp. No Facebook? We still get those services.

    It’s our cloud/mobile OS that owns the contact database, and camera API, etc. That’s where the value lies. As long as other apps can get those services, then they’ll always have a shot at stealing attention from established services like Facebook.

    Zuckerberg may succeed in building and maintaining a digital advertising empire this way, but it will be by aggregating users in a collection of services, not by creating an underlying platform that these services need in order to exist.

    Finally, the latest post on Asymco (http://www.asymco.com/2014/04/16/innoveracy-misunderstanding-innovation/) outlines a clearer definition for innovation, and it includes the concept of value creation via success in the market. So if we accept that definition then innovation does *not* include “trying and failing”. By throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks, they are creating, not innovating. Innovation is a higher order operation than creation or invention. Interesting thought.

  5. Damnit, can we stop with the Steve Jobs references already? Sorry, this isn’t the most constructive comment but it’s seriously unnerving to read about this comparison all the bloody time. I certainly hope Zuckerberg doesn’t apply Steve Jobs’ rules and defines his own, we might all learn something from it.

  6. Spot on.

    Facebook is not afraid to disrupt/eat into their own use-cases.
    Creating autonomous innovation pockets like Creative Labs was a fantastic/healthy decision.

    It is land-grab time for single-purpose magic wand experiences.
    Unbundling and creating cross-functional autonomous agents inside of the company
    is the most effective way for facebook to enable the talent they have internally.

    I think we will only be able to grasp the significance of this in a few months looking back.

    Fantastic analysis Om.

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