Face time with Mark Zuckerberg?
Facebook has sent out invitations to a mystery event on Jan. 15. Everybody's wondering what it could be.
Facebook (FB) is holding a mysterious event next week. The company will not say what it plans to show attendees, but many are speculating that it will be a smartphone or a new feature added to the site.
Mark Zuckerberg, the social network's famed co-founder and CEO, has previously stated that brand-specific hardware is a terrible idea. Regardless, the tech industry is still buzzing over rumors of the possibility that the company could change its mind.
After all, Apple (AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs famously said that seven-inch tablets were also a bad idea. The Mac maker changed its mind last year and released the iPad Mini, a small tablet that has already been purchased by millions of consumers.
However, anyone can guess that Facebook is building a phone now that the other major tech companies -- including Amazon (AMZN) -- are expected to do the same. Even Google (GOOG) (a software company) teamed up with Asus, LG and Samsung to build the Nexus brand of tablets and smartphones. It formed similar partnerships to build the Chromebook.
Aside from a smartphone, tablet or any other silly gadget analysts can think of, what are some of the things that Facebook could unveil next week?
New device integration
Roughly 18 months ago HTC unveiled a smartphone that contained a Facebook button. It was the first of its kind. The BlackBerry-style design proved to be unpopular, however, with sales figures rumored to be very disappointing, according to Ubergizmo.com. In 2012, HTC's entire portfolio of phones proved to be so lackluster that the company stopped revealing its sales figures.
Nonetheless, rumors persist that HTC is working on an even better Facebook-friendly phone that will take social media integration to a whole other level.
More gifts for the friends you "like"
If Facebook wants to become a highly profitable firm, it needs to find a way to monetize its one billion members. One way might be to charge a few bucks for a message that all of your friends will instantly see. Another might be to sell them as many physical goods as humanly possible.
A stronger push toward gaming
Facebook is in an interesting (if not challenging) position right now. The company has one billion members that it could potentially transform into dedicated/addicted gamers.
At the same time, Facebook's biggest partner in gaming, Zynga (ZNGA), is currently dying. AppData statistics show that the firm currently has 265.3 million MAUs (monthly active users), down from 270.8 million MAUs on Dec. 28. In the prior 20 days, Zynga lost more than 23 million users.
Thus, if Facebook wants gaming to be a big part of its future, it is going to have to start developing its own games.
Facebook did not pay $1 billion for Instagram without reason. The company had a plan -- perhaps several plans -- for what the app could do for Facebook in the future.
If Facebook wants to show investors and consumers that the purchase was worthwhile, its announcement could be tailored to Instagram. At the very least it could involve the team behind the software.
Greater integration with automobiles
Is it merely a coincidence that Facebook plans to make a big announcement the day after the media preview begins for the North American International Auto Show? Most likely, yes -- it is a coincidence.
However, with so many tech companies -- including Apple and Rhapsody -- turning to automobiles for new sources of revenue, it is possible that Facebook could be doing the same.
With a Facebook-integrated car, users could feasibly "check in" to every location simply by driving there, without the need for accessing the Foursquare app on their phones. Facebook could also add a camera system that allowed users to instantly share their driving experiences with the world.
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