Facebook just paid $ 2,000 million to enter the world of virtual reality. In the real world, investment underlines a big bet of tech giants for not losing control of a digital ecosystem that is evolving rapidly.
The acquisition of Oculus VR by Facebook comes just weeks after this social network agreed to pay US$ 19 billion for the company’s mobile messaging WhatsApp. Google recently disbursed $ 3,200 million by Nest Labs, which manufactures home appliances connected to the web.
From messaging to clocks and thermostats, Facebook and Google, along with Amazon.com and Apple, all want to own the digital platform where people communicate, shop and seek entertainment. The competition is fueled by its pockets combined market capitalization of the four exceeds $ 1 trillion (million million) – and the example of companies that were on the road by not adapt to change quickly enough.
This combination of fear and greed is causing one of the biggest bouts of shopping and investment from the dot-com era of the late 90s. Facebook and Google in particular have enjoyed a wide margin to make large investments, thanks to the good performance of its securities on the stock and super stock with voting powers of its founders.
“Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, is aware of all large companies died because they fell asleep on their laurels”, said Jeff Richards, managing partner of venture capital firm GGV Capital. “At some point, decades were needed to build a company as large as Facebook. Takes 10 years now”, he said.
Facebook has been tipped for social networks with large user bases, with the goal of bringing more people to its area and get more information about them for marketing purposes. In 2012 the company acquired the photo sharing app Instagram by $ 1,000 million. Then it followed the purchase of WhatsApp.
Google is looking to expand beyond the delivery of information, including tools for communication, entertainment and transportation, among others. Nest addition, the company has designed laptops, smartphones, streaming video devices, eyewear and watches, while investing in artificial intelligence and robotics companies to stay ahead.
Apple and Amazon have been less bold, but they are using the fruits of their core business to expand into new areas, such as video and processing payments. Apple, which has historically focused on electronic devices with attractive designs, seeks to offer live television and is cautiously entering the advertising industry.
Amazon has ventured far beyond its retail business to make bets on the future, from streaming video to cloud computing, through their own mobile device, the Kindle Fire.
The four companies vying for control of as much of the technology ecosystem. In the parlance of Silicon Valley, is in control “platform.” A major motivation is to collect data about users to choose which ads you present or anticipate your next purchase.
Most services Google and Facebook are free. Users pay basically providing personal information. The more they know about Facebook and Google users, the more they can charge advertisers to reach potential customers.
Amazon and Apple are not primarily advertising companies, but Apple serves as an intermediary to sell advertising space on the applications of the iPhone and iPad. However, they gather much information. Amazon wants to simplify shopping as much as possible and know so well that customers can send items even before they ask for them. Apple knows what their users see, hear and play.
All are well aware of the consequences of not adapting quickly. Ceded the Yahoo! web searches to Google and never fully recovered. Microsoft has not yet developed a clientele for their smartphones, and is retrying in its planned acquisition of the Nokia phones.
“The biggest mistake that has led companies to fail, in my opinion, is not visualized the future”, he said last week at a conference Larry Page, CEO of Google.
At the beginning of the personal digital revolution, Microsoft operating systems were the dominant platforms of personal computers. The broad base of users attracted software developers who created applications, from games to spreadsheets, and kept users in Microsoft’s orbit.
Apple took an early lead in the era of smartphones with its iPhone. But Google countered by putting its Android operating system available to manufacturers of smartphones. Today, nearly four in five smartphones worldwide use Android.
Facebook also transformed into a social network platform. It attracted developers to create games that allow users to share Facebook. But when the mobile revolution came, found that Facebook was at the mercy of Apple and Google.
The next battleground for the devices could be used on the body or clothing computer call. Googlepresentó Wear recently Android, an operating system for “intelligent bracelet watches” and similar devices. Apple working on a smart watches, according to people, and has hired experts from the medical industry to help design the devices that monitor the physical condition and health.
Facebook has over 1,000 million users and its business advertising is growing rapidly. But Zuckerberg already feared obsolescence. “In the next 10 years, the platforms on which we operate to change”, he said.
In the Facebook campus in Menlo Park, California, a sign shows the button “Like” company logo, thumb up. In the back of the sign, obscured by trees, is the name of Sun Microsystems Inc., which used to occupy the facilities, and was absorbed by Oracle Corp. in 2009. Facebook has left the name on that sign to not forget what happens to companies that do not innovate.