The Facebook Company, Inc.

UPDATE: I’d argue that stories that Zuck has begun the ‘unbundling’ of the core Facebook experience adds further weight to my claims below. It’s not about being the single destination, but being the player in an ecosystem of communication apps.

Facebook’s recent spate of acquisitions has drawn comparisons between itself and Disney.

The comparison is a fair one, or at least could be. Consider it this way. The content produced under the Disney branding is no longer the best content the company produces. In fact the best stuff is coming out of Pixar, Marvel and Maker Studios - all part of the The Walt Disney Company, Inc. Disney makes this work as all the companies it acquires are all great content producers and contribute to its core mission.

Now think about Zuck’s mission - to make the world more open and connected. Well nothing there suggests this objective can only be achieved through facebook.com. In fact by acquiring and incubating companies like WhatsApp, Instagram and even Oculus he’s marching on towards that goal.

Clearly it will take a long time for his acquisitions to prove as successful as Disney’s or Google’s, but the company’s recent trajectory has filled me with a little more confidence than it once did. Does that mean I’d invest in FB? No, not until they radically improve their core product and prove they can grow meaningful revenues from their new purchases, but it also means I haven’t written them off entirely just yet.

Google and Forecast.io

Forecast.io is a brilliant weather service and the brains behind the awesome Dark Sky app - sadly iPhone only. One of their key innovations is the introduction of radar data to effectively predict rain near to your location. It works incredibly well. For instance I was planning to go a for run last weekend so decided to check Dark Sky. It told me that Hackney would see rain within the hour so I threw on my stuff and headed out. I got back just as it started.

Google has bought core apps in the past - recently it bought Timely a really good Android alarm clock. Google also likes buying companies with an engineering or problem solving focus. Well Forecast.io is definitely an engineers approach to weather - they’re building a weather platform rather than just an app, they have a solid API and an ecosystem of third part devs. Finally, and probably most importantly, the product fits perfectly into Google Now. I’ve written about Google optimising grids previously - Forecast.io adds another layer to this. “Don’t walk it’s going to rain, take an umbrella, allow more time for driving, cycling might not be fun today.” There are thousands of decisions that are made everyday with the weather in mind and currently we require multiple apps to get the ideal view. If Google really is trying to be a personal assistant then Forecast.io sits perfectly into that mix.

Four Trends for Apple

There are four clear consumer trends that Apple is poised to take advantage of and for the first time since the birth of the iPad I’m bullish about the company.

Wearables is definitely happening. And what’s more Apple doesn’t need to make the first move here. People are waiting to see what they do. Incidentally, I find it ridiculous that people are calling it a watch. A “band” with a display makes much more sense. I still want to wear my own watch and still will. The entire watch making industry isn’t collectively shitting itself. 

Fashion + Technology are becoming bed fellows. In many ways they already are. Both Google and Apple have made some significant hires and before that the fashion set were some of the most keen followers of social media.

Personal data is on the rise. Collecting of data about yourself is common place if only in discrete areas. People are interested about the data they produce on a daily basis and want to model it for their satisfaction - and for bragging rights. Calories, distance walked, food eaten, people met, places been, the list goes on.

Health is on the ascendancy again, in part as a result of the the new access to data that have about our fitness, but also because the success of brands like Nike and to an extent smaller brands like Rapha (Sport + Fashion trend remix)  who strive to make fitness “cooler.”

So with it’s mystery new device Apple should be looking to solidify it’s position in the above. A device that doesn’t ostracise the fashion conscious who are already fans of technology. That silently collects data in the background about my acitivities. And finally, one that’s interoperable with any app and is not restricted to Apple’s ecosystem.