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The future of FacebookKara Tsuboi talks to CNET News Executive Editor Paul Sloan about what products, acquisitions, and challenges the world's largest social-media company will face next year.
-Hi, everyone, I'm Kara Tsuboi, and welcome to The Future Of, a show where we take a look a major tech company and where they might be going next year in 2013. Today, it's all about Facebook, and who better to talk about Facebook and then executive editor Paul Sloan. So, Paul -Yes. -Next year, what will change with Facebook as fast as the users concerned. -Yeah, I think you're gonna see more of what we've been seeing last few month, which means more ads. -Great. -I mean, they've been rolling out ads, a lot mobile. They say they're not-- it's not overkilled, but it's starting to get a little, you know, a little crowded and cluttered, but this is where they are making money, and this is where the focus is, and as much as Mark Zuckerberg talks about, you know, this sort of social mission of connecting the world. In fact, as they are now a public company as well all know and the pressure is on and he is in place one to start to go up, and that means more advertising and the question is how much more can they do before they upset people. -Absolutely, and before the users start to, you know, turn off, -Yeah. -and go to another site. -Yeah, I mean, I've talked to the-- one of the head designers of Facebook who designs for Mobile, and he says, "The biggest battle that he has is that little button that takes you to the home screen." He lives in fear of how many seconds it is before someone just checks out. -Interesting. -So, something we've also seen developed in the later half of 2012 is Facebook Gifts. Do you think that's going to grow for next year? -Yeah, I mean, this is a great sort of niche business for Facebook that I actually think could become less niche in quite big. They are adding more and more partners. I think it's mostly smaller brands. They have some like babyGap, and they have, you know, some known brands, and this wine and this sort of-- but they are not-- They don't have, you know, the huge brands out there because they don't need Facebook and they don't wanna pay Facebook. -But it does make Facebook some money obviously. -Sure, they take a cut. They take a cut through every transaction. If it's your birthday and I decide to send you a gift -Uh-huh. -you know, once you accept at Facebook and I put in my credit card information, which is another thing Facebook want is a lot of credit cards on file. -Oh yes. -They take a cut. The cut varies depending on the merchant to the retailer, but you know, it could be a billion dollar business. Whether it will be by the end of next year, I don't know. I don't know if it will be quite that, but it will add up. -In 2012, we saw Facebook buy Instagram, a pretty big acquisition. What types of acquisitions do you see in 2013? -You know, it's hard to imagine of making big acquisitions. People have want it and I would love to see them buy Spotify. -Yeah. -I know, you know, it makes sense. Sean Parker is involved with Spotify. He was the founding president of Facebook. -Sure. -In a lot of ways, Spotify is really tied at the hip with Facebook. However, I can't imagine it happening just because of the difficulties of negotiating with the record labels, and Facebook sees itself as this platform. It wants all the stuff to happen via and on Facebook. It doesn't want to be sourced. So, it might wanna lead you as place to buy things, but it doesn't necessarily mean it wants to be Amazon. -Right. -It doesn't wanna have to fulfill out. It doesn't wanna-- you know, be that part of the equation, and I think it's the same thing with music as entertaining as it is they idea that it would buy Spotify. I also think it would be interested in Pinterest for different reasons. I don't think Pinterest would wanna sell. I think Pinterest has thoughts on going public. -Yeah, in growing bigger in itself. -Yeah. -Yeah. -And they're too though, you have to ask just because you're really successful on Facebook rather does not mean you buy it. -Uh-huh. -So, fab-- There's always other companies that are very successful on Facebook, does not mean Facebook has to own them or can they just use the traffic, use the engagement, and use that data, which is really what they want. -Those credit card numbers. -Quite well, more than that. They wanna know your age, your gender, what you shop for, -Find history. -or what you give, how much you spend? They wanna know everything so that when you're walking around in your phone since Facebook's Mobile; it knows what to target you with. -2012 is a huge year for Mark Zuckerberg -Yes. -Not only that this company goes public in May, but he got married. He came out as a businessman this fall, what's next for him? -Well, he turns 29 this week. -29, old man. -You know, there was a lot of doubt after the messy IPO about whether Mark Zuckerberg was right man for the job. That really changed in early September when gave on that particular live interview in which he just sort of went from being this guy with a social mission to this guy who was coming out strong as a businessman. He headed on sort of talking about the thing that everyone was worried about, which is mobile. -Uh-huh. -And he just kept talking about mobile. Simply, essentially, mobile wasn't a problem for Facebook as it was before the IPO and around the IPO, but it was an opportunity, which is all they talk about now as mobile and mobile as an opportunity. -Yeah. -And you know, he just kept talking about how the user experience could be great and we can make a lot of money, and Wall Street wanted to hear that, and really since there has been ups and downs, but you know, the company has been doing quite well and the stock the last month or so has done really well. -Something like that. -I mean still, you know, $10 shy of IPO price, but it's going the right direction. -Yeah. -And so, I think, Zuckerberg just has to keep the campaign of and be really vocal about, you know, commitment to Wall Street. -Right, the mission to move forward. Yeah. Well, obviously, a lot to keep our eyes on next year at Facebook. Clearly, millions of us around the world will be. So, thank you so much for the predictions. -Sure. -Paul Sloan, I'm Kara Tsuboi. Thanks for watching The Future Of.