May 11, 2012

Facebook goes slumming for money

Two sure signs Facebook’s IPO is NOT going to fetch nearly what Marky Mark Zuckerberg wants (and which belie his non-materialistic claims).

First, Facebook is currently testing, in New Zealand, a pay-based premium content system. The cost could ride as high as $2.

Can you just picture the spam central this could become? Russian spammers would probably have no problem either establishing fake Paypal accounts, or “legit” ones using stolen credit card information, to scam this one in a Moscow minute.

That said, there’s a ray of silver lining.

The way Facebook screws up so many other things, what's to guarantee it won't flub this? And, since it would involve paid money, what's to prevent a breach of contract lawsuit? So, yes, Facebook, PLEASE introduce this, and please, screw it up!

Anyway, what’s the second sign about Facebook and its IPO? Facebook is pulling an Apple and rolling out its own “app store.” And, at the same monetary split of 30 percent as Apple. 

Given that smart media groups are already seeing that Apple’s deals are onerous AND are not generating general revenue, smart media groups will avoid this like the plague. Of course, there’s plenty of dumb media groups out there, including my previous newspaper company.

Here’s one, right here:

“We’re still gathering information about the App Center, but Atlantic Media currently reaches millions of monthly users via Facebook platform through our brand page and audience sharing, and thus the potential to reach one billion users with Atlantic Media Apps is certainly attractive. The App Center should become an important distribution channel for Atlantic Media as we accelerate our investment in mobile and app development on all platforms, including HTML5,” Scott Havens, SVP of finance and digital operations with Atlantic Media, tells FOLIO.

Per a previous blog post of mine, Mr. Havens would be smart to visit Technology Review and discover how to post mobile content on an app-free, flexible format HTML5 system. (And, based on that, it would be funny if something pushed in part by Microsoft, in part due to Apple’s concerns over Flash, wound up undercutting both Apple and Facebook.)

That said, given that Atlantic has enough in-depth, specialized content it probably should have  paywalled content, but doesn't, Mr. Havens' employer has already indicated it's not the sharpest media knife in the drawer.

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