News of Facebook working to create its own operating system has probably raised a lot of eyebrows and ruffled many feathers. The social giant made no secret that its goal is to be independent of Google and its ecosystem, particularly Android. At a time when Huawei is trying and struggling to do the same due to political circumstances, there will definitely be doubts about whether Facebook can pull it off. It definitely can and that’s the most frightening part about it.
Facebook needs Facebook OS
Although it could arguably continue operating without it, Facebook’s ambitions have no room to grow in anything other than its own house. While it will continue to cater to users on Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, Facebook will always feel stifled in others’ platforms. And it’s not because it doesn’t trust the marketplace or competitors to give it space. It’s because it knows its definition of growth goes against those platform’s values and rules.
As the creator and master of its own operating system, Facebook will no longer have to worry about paying its users to answer surveys or hand over their location on a regular basis. It no longer has to worry about its partners having to go through backdoors or secret APIs to gather the data they need to improve services and advertisements. Sure, Facebook still has to follow laws, especially in an increasingly antagonistic US, but it has been able to get away with what it could in the past.
Some might scoff at Facebook’s delusion of grandeur. After all, making an operating system is no small matter. Other companies have been at it for years and they still get it wrong. Even if it were just for VR and AR devices, such a Facebook OS would still be quite an undertaking. The reality, however, is that the company is completely capable of pulling it off.
Some might see Facebook simply as a social media company but the technical knowledge to even make that business run smoothly is no small matter. Over the years, Facebook as acquired companies and talent from all over the technology industry and has had connections and contributions in almost every computing area. Hiring Window NT co-author Mark Lucovsky is just the latest addition to that army. Suffice it to say, it wouldn’t be too difficult for it to make one today, especially with the wealth of tools and software at its disposal.
Facebook has recently been painted as the tech industry’s bad boy in light of revelations about privacy and political involvement. Despite that, only a few major brands have pulled away from the platform. To date, Facebook and its properties, including Instagram and Oculus, remain one of the biggest names in the industry, especially when it comes to advertising. And that’s because, despite the scandals, Facebook is still home to tens of thousands of users, a treasure trove of data for these companies.
Operating systems live and die by the software available to them and Facebook may indeed struggle for a while. Unlike Huawei or even Samsung, however, it won’t have much problem getting developers and their apps on board. Being on Facebook ensures they will reach thousands of users. There will be technical hurdles to overcome, for sure, but Facebook may not be too worried about some of those. It will be playing to its strengths, focusing on apps and experiences that will enhance its social network experience. Eventually, it will have enough weight to get even bigger names and apps to its OS and the rest will be history.
Social Media Engineering
Social engineering is usually defined as the use of psychological tactics to get people to divulge some otherwise private information about themselves. That is almost the definition of the terms of service that people agree to on almost all Internet services and Facebook is the master of that. It is definitely familiar with all the strategies and tactics to get users to agree to this or that new feature without really knowing, much less understanding, what’s at stake.
It may have seen an exodus of a number of users but the users that remain and get added year after year still outnumber those that left. It has become almost impossible to escape Facebook these days, even just by association. That’s why, despite all the bad publicity, Facebook still enjoys the support of a good number of brands and companies, because it remains a lucrative business especially when it comes to ads.
Facebook has everything it needs to make Facebook OS real and make it even succeed. It has the technical know-how to make platforms, the support of brands and developers to populate the platform, and the users that will give all these companies the incentive to get on board. That doesn’t speak of the quality of what this Facebook OS may have, but no 1.0 release was ever perfect anyway.
That, of course, paints a rather worrying picture of the future. A platform where Facebook writes (and rewrites) the rules to its own benefit is going to be a platform where it will be able to operate largely unchecked. A platform where its core business of advertising practically means that users are the commodity, not the customer. Facebook OS’ success will largely depend on how much users trust Facebook and the sad reality is that the majority of the world does.
Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries
Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.
Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver
EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.
Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.
Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.
South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.
Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.
($1 = 1,117.7000 won)
(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)
Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum
The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.
Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.
Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.
The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.
The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.
Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.
In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.
Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.
Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.
In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.
Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.
The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.
($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)