The billionaires at Google went on a bit of a shopping spree recently and have bought the very successful makers of the app Waze for an estimated $1.3 billion.
More expansion for the largest tech company
Like any good hegemon, Google has decided to not stop buying despite being one of the most influential companies in the world today.
The techies are now expanding their mapping and localization segment of the market with their newest purchase. Here's hoping the bid is successful as the cool $1.3 billion shaped hole in the Google Wallet could be worrying.
What is Waze?
Unlike other billion dollar purchases from recent history (Tumblr anyone?) this one was not hugely reported on apart from in specialist circles. Perhaps something to do with Tumblr being a major game-changer in social media and online trends and Waze basically tells you where there traffic jams are.
That may be a little harsh; Waze is an invaluable tool for all those who commute by road. Joining this to the geniuses at Google Maps, it could really be a new era in technology helping with our daily problems.
Waze claims to have almost 50 million users and uses a crowdsourcing method to amalgamate traffic information. Based in Israel, they offer information for most of the world's road thanks in part to satellite information.
Facebook and Apple losing out
It turns out all three companies were contenders when it came to buying the Waze app makers. Facebook was hoping to further develop their Home offering through the purchase of Waze but it all fell through when Waze headquarters refused to move to the US which was enough to break the deal. Facebook may kick themselves in the shins later for that decision.
Apple is still trying to scrape back after the disastrous launch of its own mapping service for iOS6. The damage done by that is definitely still lingering in the air as the company went from a flawless, untouchable tech company to one that makes blunders large enough for it to reverberate all over the world. Sadly though, this time again Google won over Apple.
The great Alibaba is seriously considering an IPO as the next logical step for a company in this position. The e-commerce mammoth will be looking at launching an IPO within the next few years - although this could be moved forward quite briskly if the circumstances are favorable.
The biggest fear for Alibaba is that there is a nuclear war and the internet is cut off all over the world. Their second biggest fear is that they end up like a certain social media site who got a little too greedy.
If the IPO is too high, it will be boom and bust and before you know it shares will have dropped tremendously.
With the latest purchase of a stake in Sina Weibo, Alibaba does have very serious plans to become one of the leading tech companies in China and challenge such groups as Google and Facebook.
Increase projections are estimated to rise by 59% in the next year. Something that is unheard of in the West and gives an idea of where the company is heading.
Our faithful analysts have estimated Alibaba's wealth at the USD100 billion mark. Coincidentally, this is very close to what Facebook was valuated at just before its own IPO.
However, in order to play its cards right, some experts suggest Alibaba undervalue its selling price so as not finish like Facebook did not long after its initial IPO.
Some have hinted at a valuation close to the USD60 billion which is more conservative but runs the risk of under-selling what is the largest e-commerce platform in the world in the country with the most internet users.
If all goes well, this valuation for the IPO could be a sure fire way to not fall into the Facebook trap as investors will want a part of the e-commerce giant whatever happens.
The truth is that for now, nothing has been officially pronounced by the leaders of Alibaba. An IPO in the future has been mentioned but the speculation about it being in the next 18 months is in no way confirmed.
Needless to say, those in charge will not repeat the mistakes made by others in the past and will ensure that whatever move is made will the smartest one possible.
Word on the street
A few weeks ago, we wrote about how Renren was struggling a little to keep up with the pace when it came to social network platforms in China. Admittedly, a lot of this was rumors, nonetheless, we could not discount any struggles within the company.
HOWEVER, the company has now rolled out its brand new, sparkly, innovative and one-of-a-kind feature: timeline.
Anyone who's not been living under a rock in the Scottish Highlands knows full well by this point that timeline is a feature we've all been reluctantly forced to embrace for a good year now thanks to our beloved Facebook account (it was a personal achievement of mine to only get timeline sometime in August - made me feel like I was fighting the man). How come then, Renren has taken it upon itself to bust out this not-so-new feature? An entire year after its first launch?
What's new about it?
The Renren timeline is mostly the same as Facebook's take on the story-like layout of all our details, achievements and photos. There's a large picture at the top for that single panoramic photo we have in our computer, and features are separated into two columns on the left and right.
It's a shame Renren could not come up with anything a little more innovative when it comes to adapting the timeline feature. Let's be honest, it wasn't the most impressive feature when it was launched by Facebook last year. The idea of having everything separated into two random columns does not make anything easier or cooler.
Renren not leading the way
A verdict of disappointment from us here at THEM.pro where a company like Renren had a real opportunity to move social networking platforms in a new direction but instead chose to adapt an already average-at-best feature from an ageing Facebook.
It may not be doom and gloom for all of us though and more poking around the site might reveal some cool features not yet discovered. Perhaps some day we will see Facebook hurriedly trying to adapt to Renren's new format. For now though, nothing groundbreaking to report.
How's Facebook Doing?
Not so great obviously! So far, the stock exchange hasn’t been so nice to the American company. The share price went from 38$ down to 20$ since its entry in the market. However, it hasn’t planned to let it go. Even though the net result is less good than last year, it remains close to what was expected and we can see a raise of the benefits compared to last year.
Recently, Facebook has done a few modifications on its website that has now more than 950 millions of users. The company of Mark Zuckerberg introduced a new feature that allows the advertiser to promote their page newest status to more fans than it’s usually done.
More recently the social network announced the launching of a new possibility for companies to advertise on its website. First, they will add new options for the facebook pages to target their fans more precisely. There will also be the release of a new feature very similar to Google Adwords, that would allow the advertiser to sponsor the keywords. The advertiser would buy keywords paid on PPC but since they can only redirect to a facebook page, they won’t be able to buy just any word.
On a SMM point of view, this is a really great opportunity to have better results with your Facebook company page. The ROI will increase dramatically. But keep in mind that you have to make sure this is really the kind of advertisements your company needs and that it is part of a marketing plan you’ve established before. If any doubt, you should contact our web marketing agency!
Will this New Marketing Feature be Efficient?
If Facebook manages to success as well as Google did, that would probably put them back on tracks.
However, you must keep in mind that Facebook’s users are often dissatisfied with the advertisements they found too often on the website. According to a survey of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Facebook would be, amongst all the social networks, the one that users are the less satisfied with. Let’s hope that this new kind of advertisement won’t be too intrusive for the user.
Anyway, this might be the hand Facebook needed to be back on the market for good, considering the number of users (that has decreased by 4,8% during the past 6 months according to Nielsen) as well as the price of its shares. Maybe they will even catch up on Google shares that are valued at 641$ by the time I write this article.
Anything else we Should Know about the American Social Network?
Latest rumor would be that Facebook’d like to be a new actor in the mobile phone’s market.
So far, it has been denied. But you know what they say: Rumors always have a part of truth.
Facebook Chief in Beijing
Facebook Chief who is currently on vacation in China has met the leaders of one of the most popular Chinese Internet portal, namely Sina.com. A few days ago, Mr Zuckerberg named Time magazine’s person of the year also met Baidu CEO Robin Li.
In addition to his interest in learning Chinese Mandarin, Facebook Chief never hid his willingness to reenter the Chinese market, currently holding the world’s largest Internet population.
No Facebook in China
What strategy for Facebook in China?
World’s largest social network service Facebook hits 500 million users according to a post on their blog.
Facebook: 500 million strong
Despite difficulties about privacy concerns, Facebook has gained almost 250 million users compared to one year ago.
However, the world's leading social network has to find other ways to maintain its growth since some markets like the US seem to be saturated.
That's why Facebook recently announced its willingness to go local and grow in Asian countries, notably in China (even if it's still blocked!), Russia, South-Korea and Japan where it isn't the leading social network.
Facebook launches new application
Facebook also unveils a new application namely "Facebook stories" allowing users to share stories that highlight the benefits of Facebook in their life.
For example, Ben Saylor, a high school student, who used Facebook to organize a community effort to rebuild a theater in Kentucky, after it was damaged by floods in May.
Next objective for Facebook is clearly to reach 1 billion users.
World’s largest social network service Facebook hopes to grow in Asia, and notably in China, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the Cannes Lions advertising festival.
World's largest SNS
Founded in 2004, Facebook now has almost 500 million members.
The company is looking for other ways to maintain its growth driven now by non-English languages, in particular French, Spanish, Turkish and Indonesian. The objective is to reach 1 billion users.
Facebook to go local
Mark Zuckerberg also announced that Facebook would soon begin to make its first strategic local moves and do specific things in specific countries. He did not specify whether that would involve local customisation of Facebook in those countries, or some sort of corporate activity.
He also pointed out that mobile internet would be a driver of growth in social media.
Facebook wants to take the lead in the Asian SNS market
Among the countries for the next phase of expansion, Mark Zuckerber quoted China, Russia, South-Korea and Japan where Facebook isn't the leading social network.
Facebook faces fierce competition with Chinese social networks such as Tencent QQ, Renren Network (former Xiaonei) and Kaixin001 (see our article about SNSs in China). But as you know, Facebook is still blocked in China, so I don't really understand how Facebook intends to gain users unless it buys one of these companies.
Other local Asian SNS leaders include Cyworld in South Korea, Mixi in Japan and Vkontakte in Russia.
Every social network system is growing in China... except facebook, because as we told you before, facebook is blocked in china.
When I see the hard time google is having to gain market shares against baidu (which has about 70% market share here in china), I think facebook is not likely to get back in the competition. When facebook will be accessible again, it will be too late. Specially because chinese users won't go from xiaonei or kaixin001 to facebook if they already have their contacts in these two sns.
Facebook, to get back in the game, will have to buy one of these sns (maybe xiaonei, because xiaonei is a copy of facebook, so users won't have difficulties to adapat to facebook's interface).
Another thaught is... if these sns become bigger and stronger, won't they try to compete with facebook in other countries?
Once more, local players are doing better in china than international ones (I know, with a little help ;o) but still, i think that if you want to be in the chinese market... the best thing you could do is ... coming to China.
China facebook. Today, Facebook and twitter, probably because of what's going on on the west side of the country, are blocked in china. I am not going to discuss the politics behind this. This is a blog about search engine optimization, and internet marketing, so i am going to stick to that... but don't think i am heartless or I don't care about what is going on.
1) Now imagine you are in shanghai, or beijing, and you run your company on facebook (with a facebook app), well, as long as facebook is blocked, then you have 0 turn over...
2) they want to stop spreading the information... but i am wondering if by blocking facebook, they don't actually boost the spread of information, because the whole world is going to speak about facebook being blocked!
3) Often, people think that china is blocking facebook to stop information broadcasting abroad. actually I think that the main reason is for chinese in china. this is the most important part they need to control... so why don't they stop xiaonei, a facebook copy in china!?
Well, let's hope facebook is going to be accessible again in china in few hours, because it's also a tool for my business...
Edit: we are on the 24 of july, and facebook is till blocked in china. It's probably going to be blocked until october 1st 2009, for the 60th anniversary of the creation of the "People's Republic of China".
Edit 07/08/2009 :
China blocked twitter again, and facebook, and almost everything that can help information broadcasting.
China blocked twitter and flickr today. We don't know why. Maybe to help its new comers like the chinese competitor of twitter ( fanfou.com ). Still, we lost today two very good seo assets.
Actually, we can continue add message to our twitter by using services like ping.fm , that's how i am right now twitting about it ;o)
But i cannot read my favorite tweets anymore, except by using a proxy.
Edit : China blocked twitter, flickr, hotmail, bing, and youtube was blocked before... so, what's next? keep tuned