Home Industry Strategy What will Facebook announce on January 15th?

Yesterday, Facebook issued an invitation to journalists to visit its headquarters in a rather cryptically worded manner.

"Come and see what we're building" is all it said.

Of course the assembled throng of media, already bleary eyed from endless hours on the CES exhibition floor went loopy over this.

Suggestions revolving around the long-mooted phone, perhaps a customised laptop or tablet, possibly even the demise of one or other of its services (and replacement with another, perhaps) were all bandied around with the accumulated subtlety of a mug-punter at a country race meeting.

However, it seems we should pay closer to the words (as sparse as they are) that were actually used. The invitation specifically refers to building. That is not a word one would use to describe a device. A phone or tablet, might be created, but one can't imagine Facebook announcing that they're building a tablet (or phone).

To this writer, building seems more like a software platform or structure. It also implies something designed, perhaps even started, but not finished.

OK, time to go out on a limb. What do we predict?

Ever since the Facebook IPO identified Zynga as a major point of concern in the company's income spread, there has been a slow and relentless process to divorce the entities as much as possible. For instance, this report that suggested Facebook had a hand in Zynga's stock price tanking in the middle of the year.

At the time, it was suggested that Facebook was attempting to drive the price low enough to buy the company at some bargain-basement price. At the time of that report, Zynga's market capitalisation was $2.2B; it is now $1.91B.

This writer is speculating that the announcement centres around a new gaming platform. And maybe around Zynga, maybe not.

We cannot decide between options that include or exclude Zynga. Either way, Zynga, as an independent entity will have no visibility on Facebook. The new gaming platform will be optimised for mobile as a major step in regaining the money flow that was lost when mobile users neglected to see or click on what little advertising was delivered to them.

Expect to see extensive in-game advertising along with free basic games with paid-for enhanced versions.

Not all of this will appear with the release - next week will see the announcement of a platform with the expectation that both internal and external developers will develop games into the future.

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David Heath

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David Heath has over 25 years experience in the IT industry, specializing particularly in customer support, security and computer networking. Heath has worked previously as head of IT for The Television Shopping Network, as the network and desktop manager for Armstrong Jones (a major funds management organization) and has consulted into various Australian federal government agencies (including the Department of Immigration and the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence). He has also served on various state, national and international committees for Novell Users International; he was also the organising chairman for the 1994 Novell Users' Conference in Brisbane. Heath is currently employed as an Instructional Designer, building technical training courses for industrial process control systems.

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