Not long ago I came up with a definition of a forecaster:
- Assess the current conditions
- Identify the influences on those conditions
- Make a prediction as to how the influences will affect the future
This is a really interesting article. You probably need to read it before moving on. I’ll wait…
(tapping foot…shifting in chair…)
The main message is that Facebook is, and has been, pretty good at spotting trends and copying them. I get it. Competition makes everybody stronger.
The underlying message is a bit more ominous. From the article:
Today that app, called Onavo, has become a little-known weapon in Facebook’s massive expansion strategy…
The technology shows how far Facebook is willing to go as part of its aggressive strategy to reach into new areas beyond social networking…
In the last Facebook quarterly earnings report it cautioned that while it has two billion users, it knew that it had reached a point where it knew it couldn’t maintain large growth in the amount of advertising it could put in its mobile app (assessing the current conditions, by the way). In order to maintain a high growth trajectory the company will begin experimenting with ads in its Messenger app because it needs more apps in which to place ads (influences, by the way).
Sidebar. Go and try to log out of Messenger. You can’t do it. Next, remove Facebook and Messenger from your phone. Now put Messenger back and you won’t need to log in. Meaning that somewhere your username and password have been left on the phone.
So, who cares (making a prediction, by the way). Facebook needs more information on you to support its advertising business (another good article, you can read this one after you finish this). It will use Onavo and every other means to gather information about you, whether you are aware of it or not. These actions will be executed by the same guy who took the original idea from two Harvard classmates.
Oh no, Kevin. That old argument? Really?
Yes. And here is why. Forecasting the weather is math. It follows a predicable pattern. If you know the math and can gather enough of the influences you can see the future.
Who knew that you and Zuck were in the same business?