This Tuesday, several news outlets have reported receiving a mysterious email invitation by Facebook, telling them to “come out and see what we’re building.” The invitation, aimed at tech bloggers and reporters, cryptically describes an event, taking place on January 15. Following this newsbreak, Facebook’s stock has officially jumped above $30, the highest since its initial public offering.
Of course, this has sparked new interest in social media’s resident relic and controversy magnet, as fans and media outlets ponder what exactly is next for Mark Zuckerberg’s corporation. The one idea being tossed around the most is for a Facebook smartphone, with one report even suggesting that the company is working on a brand-specific handset with manufacturer HTC.
Theoretically, it makes sense, seeing as how everyone from Google to Amazon has now made one. In fact, even Barnes and Nobles has entered the brand-specific gadget arena so it does pose a question as to why Facebook has announced nothing as of yet. Besides, many people use their phones and tablets to check and constantly update their Facebook status, so it only makes sense that the social network would want to skip the middleman.
And while it is true that Zuckerberg has previously expressed dislike for the idea of a Facebook phone, let us remember that even Steve Jobs was once against the idea of a seven-inch tablet. Of course, it was only rational to assume that no one would wish to buy a gadget that is too large to be a phone and too small to be a tablet, so the former Apple CEO can be forgiven for his skepticism.
Other potential options for Facebook could include their biggest gaming partner, the dying Zynga and Instagram, the much talked about picture program that Facebook purchased after paying over $1 billion but still is having trouble properly utilizing.
Either way, after sending out a message that has sparked so much speculation, Facebook will need to deliver with some big news, lest they sound like the crumbling media giant that cried wolf. Is the company finally going to introduce some hardware? Are they going to reveal some sort of paid plan for their services? Perhaps a new feature that makes bring them back from being a relic of the pre-Twitter era and helps them dodge the fate of Myspace?
Whatever the case may be, it will be interesting to see what step the company now takes. Facebook has a billion users at its fingertips; now is the time to show the world it can monetize them.