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Facebook vs. Apple: Only One Offers Value to Users

2014 12 08   Peter Feinstein   Social Media    

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg slams Apple CEO’s statement on advertising (The Next Digit)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s take on Apple and his platform is so far off base it’s kind of funny. To me, his vision has become so clouded that he can’t even see through his own delusion.

Mr. Zuckerberg actually thinks he’s entitled to collect as much user data as he can so he can convince advertisers to buy into his ineffective platform. For now, he is legally entitled to do that. But market forces will change that eventually. It’s inevitable.

But back to the article I noted above: In reality, Mr. Zuckerberg is wrong both about Apple and his own company’s entitlement. Here’s why:

  • Everyone – everyone – who buys an Apple product does so willingly, with an innate understanding of what they are doing. They know exactly what they are buying and make the conscious choice to spend their money that way. And Apple products offer every user considerable value – many would contend far beyond the money they gladly paid. I’m no Apple homer: I own some Apple products, and they are not the panacea. But, in my experience, they do work better than everything else out there. That’s value.
  • Mr. Zuckerberg’s service is free and offers no discernible value. If it did, it wouldn’t be free. That’s how business works; it’s an immutable law. Ask yourself: If Mr. Zuckerberg charged even a dollar a day for access to Facebook (about a quarter the cost of a cup of Starbucks coffee), what do you think would happen? It’s likely that he would lose tens of millions of users instantly – perhaps hundreds of millions – proof positive of the absence of value.

But Facebook users are not his customers; they’re his bait to lure potential advertisers. He trades on the identities of his platform’s users through the use of carefully worded privacy policies that entitle him to co-opt key elements of every user’s identity and online browsing activity for the sole purpose of making money from his real customers. He offers no value to users, other than marginal convenience for people to talk to each other. He stands in the middle of the conversation, with the ability to control it and ostensibly sell access to very small, controlled portions of that conversation.

It’s brilliant! Genius! I honestly wish I’d have thought of it. But I would have reversed the business model: Users would have to opt-in to receive advertising. I’d only want to present advertising to users who want to receive them. It would instantly make my platform more valuable to both users and advertisers. But Facebook is what it is and, as such, Mr. Zuckerberg’s tantrum rings hollow to me. Maybe he could find better use of his time and money – like paying off the national debt?