Saturday, 25 April 2009

Facebook - 2009's Pageant Winner, Wants Its Cash Prize

On 8 April, Facistbook's user content hit the big 200 million & it is feeling pretty smug.

However, over the past month there have been rather loud whispers concerning the company's plan to charge it's ever-growing fan-base a fee. That's right, very soon the currently free social networking service may be vying for your penny purse. Of course, there has been much skepticism about this diirty rumour, especially highlighted by the Facebook groups, which are dedicated to prematurely putting an end to any nasty behaviour.

Unfortunately, this month Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, indirectly alluded that such an occurance may be closer than, many of its 200 million socially savvy users, may think. Like a true business woman she referred to the success of the current advertising strategies, which are 'cash flow-positive', -Microsoft invested 240 million dollars- and firmly denied any future plans to charge 'a basic fee for its services'. She attributes the current concerns of Facebook's users to its fast growth, and again stresses that the company can 'finance their growth' without 'charging for basic services' [Business Week].

Right, so Facebook will not be charging users, for its BASIC services. So BASICally, Sandberg is covering all ends by choosing her words very very carefully. So the real question is: Please define 'basic services'. Although we are yet to be clear on this definition, one thing we can be sure of, is that those non-basic services which Sandberg ambiguously refers to, are the ones us 200 million devotees should be concered about.

An educated and informed guess would lead many to believe that although Facebook will not charge a subscription fee, there is a great chance that it will charge for those non-'basic-services', such as applications. Currently, there are some 50,000 applications cluttering our Facebook spheres and in March 2009 the alliance between social media site Facebook and Zuora, a company that provides an on-demand subscription billing and payment service [TechCrunch], was announced. I guess if the creators of the applications are making a bit of doosh, Facebook thinks it only fair, that it too should benefit.

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I am more than prone to monologues; however, this is solely due to the manner in which they compliment a witty anecdote and their ability to resemble concrete evidence when it is so obviously lacking. I often wish I could emulate that aloof character who coolly stands in the corner smiling mysteriously as if she has a secret. However, I fear resisting the temptation to involve myself in other people’s conflicts and responding through body language rather than verbose banter may come across as contrived and arrogant. And, I am not willing to take that chance.

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