Facebook has been the center of attention this past week, making headlines all over the place. First the Facebook IPO launched after Zuckerberg threatened to cancel it, then it bombed, then Facebook started getting sued left and right, then Mark Zuckerberg apparently felt like it was a good time to get married to his longtime girlfriend. To top it off, Facebook decided to stir the pot by hiring Apple engineers to begin work on a project that many believe is a Facebook phone. This coincides with a long standing rumor Facebook has been working on a phone, but they heavily denied it. Well today, the rumors have been quelled. An image has been leaked showing a pager-like device with a Facebook notification message on its display. It seems Facebook isn’t working on a phone at all. We are about to see the return of the pager, courtesy of Facebook. Huh?
Why in the world would Facebook make a pager? We reached out to Tom Garwinkle, tech analyst at the WSJ for his opinion. “Sometimes I hate my job. This is one of those times. But, I suppose I’ll be as professional as I can be”, Tom said. Since Tom was no help at all, here is our analysis. We know that Facebook is lacking a monetization strategy for mobile users. A pager provides immediate notification of activity on your Facebook page, encouraging users to login to the site and view the activity. This is where they want users, on the website, so it certainly plays into their current strategy. At the end of the day, this is a roundabout mobile monetization strategy. Does it make sense? Not at all. But it’s a strategy, nonetheless. That’s a step in the right direction.
Tom did say that he feels they may have a shot at bringing Baby Boomers, seniors, and dumb phone users into their mobile strategy as well. That is, if this pager is cheap enough and people are receptive to bringing a pager back into their lives.
If introducing a whole new device into the cutthroat market of smartphones is their solution for mobile monetization, what’s next for Facebook? We’d suggest making a mobile app that works.