Facebook Inc. (FB) Completely Video In Five Years: Mark, Are You Serious ?

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If you love videos, you’ll probably love Mark Zuckerberg for having said that. If you don’t, you will probably be scratching your head (like me) wondering what he has in mind.

Wondering what he said?

“In five years, most of [Facebook] will be video,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last Thursday during the company’s first community town hall, in which he answered questions put up by his fans and detractors.

Mark’s statement is apparently influenced from the statistics that 100 million videos that are uploaded to Facebook every month, recording billion of views every day.

If a picture says a thousand words, a one-minute video is worth 1.8 million, say Forrester’s researchers! It is one of the most engaging ways to tell a story, as mentioned here earlier.

We could not agree more with Forrester’s researchers regarding the impact videos can have. But the question is:

  1. Is that what we want our favourite networking site to look like- mostly video?
  2. More importantly, are we ready to handle a predominantly video site?

Let’s figure out not by just mixing few of the great statement and individual’s opinion, it would be more valuable if you could do the justice to the questions by churning few statistics, intelligence backed by a thoughtful analysis.

Are the users ready for a video-based social site?

What makes a networking site popular?


Who could know it better than this giant site with a user base of 1.35 billion people across the globe? No site can afford to ignore users’ interests, choices and preferences if it wants to survive.

Since Zuckerberg has only hinted at what Facebook MIGHT be like, without elaborating on it, we can only imagine certain possibilities:

Will Facebook make it mandatory for users to share ONLY videos? No status updates and no picture sharing at all?

LaughingSquid had, in an infographic, pointed out that 41,000 statuses are posted every 60 seconds on this networking site last year. Wired.com had also pointed out that individual users upload 300 million photos (i.e. more than 500TB of data) to the site every day last year. Photo traffic of this hugely popular site was put at more than 300,000 images served per second in 2008 by Facebook itself!

Video content, on the other hand, is not as popular with the users of this site. Though it can and does get shared and viewed, would YOU login to your Facebook account while searching for an online video?

I would rather try YouTube.

If Facebook does make it mandatory for users to post ONLY videos to their site, what would it imply?

It will become more cumbersome to share content over this site. Creating and sharing a video, undoubtedly, involves more effort than updating Facebook status or sharing a picture over it.

The users of the site will have to be smart and tech savvy to be able to first shoot a video and then upload it to the site.

Users will also need high-resolution phones or cameras with video recording facility to be able to do so. As of Q3 2014, Facebook has 296 million mobile-only monthly active users. Given that a large percentage of people don’t access the site from a mobile device which has video recording capability, Facebook’s user base will suffer a huge setback. Considering the growth of Facebook mobile userbase in last few quarters, the percentage of MAUs could surpass Desktop users in next five years, but  not many might be willing to share personal videos over a social site as it demands more efforts, time and, off course, data traffic.

Do we have the infrastructure to handle a video based site?

Out of the total population of 7.2 billion on our planet, only 40% have access to the internet today.

The ones who do have access to the internet do not always get a good speed which is essential for watching a video online. Low speed of internet and buffering due to the same dissuades any user from watching videos over the internet, whether or not he uses Facebook.

The global average connection speed went up by 21% during Q3 2014 and touched 4.6 Mbps with South Korea continuing to be on the top of the table with the highest connection speed as reported by Akamai.

Though more and more people are getting connected to the internet with every passing day and there has been a dramatic increase in the number of smartphone users (vital for the growth of this site because a large number of them access it only through their mobile devices), it would be safe to assume that the percentage and the number of internet users will add rapidly over the next five years. With the cost of internet also going down due to mobile data carriers cutting down on their tariff in a bid to capture the ever expanding markets, that internet penetration will also improve. But merely providing internet might not be enough, unless the users get it at a good speed which makes watching online videos enjoyable. Mark’s Internet.Org initiative to bring next 5 billion people on Internet could also pave the way for Facebook hitting the mark of 2 billion in next years.

How many of these internet users will have access to smartphones which can shoot cameras and upload them to the site is debatable!

Though a greater chunk (nearly 50%) of Facebook’s profits comes from its so-called ‘home markets’- USA and Canada together with Europe, we cannot afford to ignore that the site is registering a faster growth rate from countries in Asia and Africa. These countries will, obviously, be vital for Facebook profitability in five years’ time. Will their internet speed be fast enough to allow for continuous streaming of video content?

In Q2, 2014, the average internet speed in India, Brazil, Indonesia and Phillippines – the major countries Facebook’s userbase growth is coming from – had touched to 2Mbps, 2.9 Mbps, 2.5 Mbps and 2.5 Mbps, respectively. In the last one year, the average speed in these four emerging countries has only been doubled but is still much slower than those countries where the consumption of mobile internet and mobile video is commendable.

Though Cisco believes that 69% of all internet traffic is expected to come from videos in the coming three years, how much of that traffic will convert into profits?

What Facebook wants ultimately is PROFITS.

Will a predominantly/completely video based Facebook be able to sustain its profitability?

Facebook has, over the years, been trying its best to make it easier for users to share video content on to their site. Users, for example, are not required to upload a video to YouTube anymore. Plus the videos start playing automatically as a user scrolls down the page- a feature which has been a huge hit with advertisers and marketers. That has them all flocking to this networking giant for getting more views.

Though this has certainly affected the popularity of Google owned online video sharing site, YouTube, the proposition of a video based Facebook does not quite sound too appealing to its users.

We love Facebook for the way it is- we can share our feelings, our moods, spit venom on friends and foes alike if we wish to, mollycoddle loved ones on their special days and compliment them for their achievements. We love to brag and flaunt here. I’m not sure of that can go on with a video based site.

The astute businessman that Zuckerberg is (being the youngest of all the powerful people on Forbes’ list at the age of 30 is no mean achievement after all), he is known to come up with brilliant ideas which ultimately deliver. Users had pointed out to the slowing down of the site due to many pictures being shared thereon in the same meeting where Zuckerberg had made these remarks, to which he had said that the data centers have been equipped to deal with the overload, and that the “real challenge is improving the infrastructure to allow for more rich media like video in people’s feeds.

If he is suggesting a video based site, he might have something up his sleeve which we, lesser mortals, cannot see at the moment. Till the time he pulls out the rabbit from his hat and tells us how he plans to sustain the site’s popularity and profitability from a video based site, we can only shoot in the dark.

Really, it’s quite difficult to find a decisive vote on the subject, let’s us know what do you think about Mark Zuckerberg’s statement on Facebook becoming nearly video in next five year by vote or by commenting below.

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