How Facebook is slowly eating the rest of the Internet

You can now stream live to Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg wants you to know it’s a big deal.

But Facebook’s latest feature is more than just the ability to post live video for your friends to see. There’s a map where you can explore streams from across the world. There are filters to use when broadcasting, and integration with the newly minted Facebook reactions.

It’s one of the largest product releases by Facebook in a while, but most of the bells and whistles sound like features offered elsewhere. By jumping into live video, Facebook is also replicating or, well, re-imagining live video done by Periscope, Meerkat and others. In an interview with Buzzfeed News last week, Zuckerberg addressed what makes Live different from Periscope the video streaming company owned by Twitter.

His answer was simple, Facebook has the audience. The competitors don’t.

“If you’re a person that just wants to share with your friends, it helps to have your friends there,” Zuckerberg told Buzzfeed.

On Friday, Buzzfeed an early partner with Facebook Live blew up a watermelon using just rubber bands and streamed the entire affair on Facebook. More than 2 million people watched.

Facebook offers what Periscope does but with an added bonus it’s now exactly where the people are. There’s no pitch, no need to download the next big app. It’s on Facebook. You have Facebook. Why go anywhere else?

A few weeks ago, Facebook Messenger released a new Easter egg where users can play a game of basketball by sending an emoji. This is basically “Peach Ball” a feature offered on Peach a small social network that was released in January except Messenger lets you challenge friends. When the Messenger announced the new game, I didn’t have a reason to keep Peach on my phone. Better yet, I had a new reason to use Facebook. Score one for Zuckerberg.

Ever since Facebook made Messenger a completely separate app in 2014, the company has worked to dominate the chat-app market. Messenger directly competes with Kik and WeChat, offering users video calls, stickers and soon a dedicated in-house bot store.

Still, the company hasn’t exactly succeeded at every attempt to model new trends. When Snapchat first started to boom, Facebook created Slingshot, marketed on its own Facebook page as a way to “share life as it happens. Filter and draw on photos and looping videos.” Sounds just like Snapchat.

Facebook took Slingshot off the app store along with two other internal products Riff and Room in December, but the company is still directly competing with Snapchat for features. Last month, Facebook acquired MSQRD a face-swapping app that lets you look like Ironman or Superman. It’s nearly the same technology behind Snapchat’s own filters.

It doesn’t stop there. On Thursday, Messenger released scannable codes and usernames so people can easily connect and share no phone number necessary. Yeah. You’re right. That sounds just like the QR codes on Snapchat.

The only social network Facebook hasn’t tried to replicate is Instagram.

Facebook bought Instagram.

But, before I sign off with a quote from 1984, here’s my olive branch. Facebook does come out with great, original ideas. It reinvented the iconic “like” button and created Facebook reactions. It developed instant articles, letting users read their favorite publishers without the load time. Still, there’s a trend, whether it’s an internal change or reinventing a new feature — all the new updates have one thing in common: They’re new reasons to never leave the app.

Great people take great ideas. By adding these new features, Facebook at least competes for developing market shares. It’s what any successful company would do. The question is, can Facebook continue to reinvent what’s already on the market? And, more important, when does innovating become duplicating?

I’m not asking everyone to delete their account or question their morality. Let’s just be honest with what’s happening here.

Facebook wants to become “the” Internet.

By Teddy Amenabar / washingtonpost.com
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Facebook is succeeding where Google should have dominated

As Facebook gears up to announce a bunch of new video and messaging products at its developers conference this week, a common question has come up among industry insiders: "Where's Google?"
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg /AP Photo/Manu Fernadez
Facebook seems to be leaving Google in the dust in certain areas where the search giant should have dominated. Beyond giving Facebook bragging rights, the company's aggressive development of some of these new technologies has the potential to shake up the business landscape.

Take Facebook's recent, dramatic push into video live-streaming.

Sure, YouTube has broadcasting capabilities. Individuals can do it through its gaming app and the company has live-streamed huge events, like the US president's State of the Union address and several debates. But Facebook has opened up its streaming capabilities to the public, put discovery front and center, and already proved the virality of its approach as nearly a million people simultaneously tuned in to watch a watermelon explode.

One Facebook partner that Business Insider spoke to put it this way:

Part of the appeal of Facebook's Live product is that broadcasters can pull in people who were already just hanging out on Facebook anyway. Google may get the same amount of people or more to watch one of their live YouTube streams, but in the majority of cases, those people will be seeking out that video, not discovering it because they were already hanging out on YouTube.

And succeeding at Live video the closest equivalent to broadcast TV comes with huge advertising potential.

Right now, advertisers like YouTube because it has higher-quality content and brands can attach themselves to professional creators who have a following, says Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research. Facebook, on the other hand, doesn't have the same quantity of high-quality video for advertisers to latch on to.

"This could change if Facebook more aggressively licenses or otherwise helps to develop professional video content that runs on its platform," Wieser notes.

And new tools to encourage high-quality streaming content on Facebook is one of the things that the company is expected to talk about at its conference this week.

Rise of the bots
The other area you'd expect Google to have succeeded already is messaging, but Facebook's chat app, Messenger, looks miles beyond anything the search giant offers.

Google has Hangouts, a chat app that contains elements of live video you can do video calls between groups of users as well as messaging, though it's primarily a conversational tool.

But Facebook is widely expected to release new tools for businesses to incorporate automated artificial-intelligence-driven messaging through "chatbots" likely with new integrations with its own smart virtual assistant, M.

Facebook's vision of the future is that users can get a wide variety of information and services from chat, like buying a shirt, ordering an Uber, making a dinner reservation, buying tickets to a show, checking their flight status, and more. Meanwhile, this "conversational" search would keep people on Messenger and off of Google search.

The search threat
Imagine users being able to message a Tide detergent bot about the best way to get a coffee stain out of a white T-shirt, and receiving a video response right in the chat app. Goodbye, advertisement-laden Google query.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during his keynote address at Facebook F8 in San Francisco, California March 25, 2015. REUTERS/Robert GalbraithThomson Reuters

Entrepreneur Alex Iskold prophetically described this future early last year in the blog post "I've seen the new face of search and it ain't Google."

"Once this new world order is in place, you will quickly forget how Google worked. Phrase based search and 10 links will become the things of the past. You will quickly get used to, and will love, the human way to search. Via a text message," Iskold wrote.

Or, in this case, a Messenger chat.

If users can get all the information they need through asking bots in Messenger, they'll be less likely to want to open up a different search product. Of course, Google does have an intelligent assistant already in Google Now, but the more advanced version, Google Now on Tap, is available only on its latest Android operating system which is available only on a small percentage of Android phones.

The Wall Street Journal reported last December that Google plans to release a smarter, bot-focused, platform-agnostic, messenger app, but we've yet to see any real sign of that product.

"Google has made many entries in social and YouTube is still its greatest social asset," Jan Rezab, founder of social-media analytics company Socialbakers, tells Business Insider. "But it has not succeeded to see the trend in social messaging, live video, and hasn't made substantial acquisitions in the space which in the long run is very bad for Google."

Google holds its own developers conference next month, and we're sure to get a whole host of new announcements from the search giant, too. But even if it does make major announcements in live video or smart chat, it will end up looking like second fiddle to Facebook.

By Jillian D'Onfro / businessinsider.com