Amazon and Facebook: Two Very Different Paths Forward

Amazon and Facebook: Two Very Different Paths Forward

On the surface, not much difference in the Amazon Approach and the Facebook Approach: swallow up everything in your path. If we can’t buy you (Facebook/Snapchat), we will appropriate every new feature you develop and destroy you. Of course, when there’s a product or product line from an outside vendor that’s doing well on Amazon, the company will simply copy it and cut out the middleman.

Variations on a theme.

Not so, it seems, going forward, and it will be interesting to see who’s making the smarter bets. Facebook just introduced Facebook Local, which Wired is calling a Yelp and Foursquare killer and “the only Facebook app you need,” the point being to keep you even more engaged with the site, about which founding Facebook president Sean Parker had some choice words to share this past week, none of them flattering (Sean Parker unloads on Facebook “exploiting” human psychology), giving Axios “a candid insider’s look at how social networks purposely hook and potentially hurt our brains.” Bottom line here: Facebook is betting on a mobile future.

Smartphone Growth is Slowing

While it’s true that mobile phones are ubiquitous, truth be told, and as Mary Meeker pointed out in her 2017 internet trends report (takeaways courtesy of Recode):

  • Global smartphone growth is slowing: Smartphone shipments grew 3 percent year over year last year, versus 10 percent the year before.
  • Voice is beginning to replace typing in online queries. Twenty percent of mobile queries were made via voice in 2016, while accuracy is now about 95 percent.

Fork in the Road?

Yogi Berra once said, If you see a fork in the road, take it, and for all we know, Jeff Bezos was a fan. Or at least saw the writing on the wall, which might help to explain why he’s now the world’s wealthiest person, despite the fact that he doesn’t always bat a thousand (remember the Amazon fire phone – didn’t exactly blaze any trails). Still, according to Fast Company, For Amazon, The Future Of Alexa Is About The End Of The Smartphone Era. With touch-screen devices like the Echo Show and Echo Spot, Amazon is trying to upend a decade of smartphones, notifications, and apps. What to speak of the fact that Amazon’s focus is very much on voice-enabled technology, eh, Alexa?

“Amazon is wiping the slate clean, and creating a new system in which every possible action already has a voice command to go with it. The next step is to go back and accommodate touch as well. (Google may be pursuing a similar plan, but for now, the Google Assistant is only integrated into smart speakers such as Google Home and Android devices at the hardware level.)”

And don’t think Apple, who basically pioneered touch with the introduction of the iPhone, isn’t retrofitting Siri as well.

Amazon Everywhere

According to the Fast Company piece, Amazon plans to have technology that will follow you throughout your day, with touch screens as an enhancement to its voice-enabled technology.

Quite different from Facebook, which wants to keep you in their walled garden, or “Behavior Modification Empire,” as the father of virtual reality Jaron Lanier calls it in his recent biography (and with which, it seems, Sean Parker would agree), while Amazon wants to be out there with you.

Should also be interesting to see where this all leaves Apple in the no doubt none-too-distant future.

Lest we forget, the iPhone is now ten years old. All the new bells and whistles aside, there’s a world of difference between having a vision, and sticking adamantly with a core competency. Take heed, innovators of the world: the times and technologies are very much a-changing and pun very much intended as we go onward and forward.

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