Here's the key par that explains the Facebook chief's intentions in rearchitecting his services:
“We plan to build this the way we've developed WhatsApp: focus on the most fundamental and private use case — messaging — make it as secure as possible, and then build more ways for people to interact on top of that, including calls, video chats, groups, stories, businesses, payments, commerce, and ultimately a platform for many other kinds of private services.”
He would be “building a privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform”, he said — note how messaging now comes first in that phrase. So, that little messenger box you may be used to on Facebook.com, sidelined by your news feed, will in future be the focus for your interactions.
“In a few years, I expect future versions of Messenger and WhatsApp to become the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network,” he said.
In addition, he detailed how there would be interoperability between Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram's Direct messaging. Facebook would use end-to-end encryption and not store keys nor store data in countries where it may not be secure. Content would automatically expire or be archived over time.
There are so many implications here for users, advertisers, publishers, regulators and Facebook's business model, but one thing that leaps out is that Mr Zuckerberg appears to be behaving responsibly here, yet his solution seems designed to allow the social network to avoid future responsibilities.
Making data disappear by default, breaking down the influence of the news feed, making interactions secure and private all reduce the need for Facebook to moderate and monitor its vast audience and those who seek to influence it. Through the devolution of shifting the service to millions of conversations and groups, he is giving back power to the user and reducing his own accountability for what goes on. Lawmakers and regulators may have something to say about that.
The business challenge of moving to become more of a Chinese WeChat is the possible narrowing of the opportunity to monetise, as Facebook limits its territorial expansion and the access it has to the habits and content of its users.
This conscious limiting of its influence all represents a huge gamble, but, to paraphrase an old Zuckerberg saying, Facebook seems to be moving fast to put the brake on things.
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The sass is back in SaaS
Judging by this year's share price rises, Wall Street is betting that several fast-growing but mainly lossmaking software-as-a-service cloud apps can become essential tools in worker’s lives. Richard Waters has been looking at the prospects for Salesforce, ServiceNow, Workday and their competitors.
Amazon christens healthcare JV
Amazon’s healthcare joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase will be called Haven, and will be led by the surgeon and writer Atul Gawande. Less certain on the naming front is whether the company can win a jungle battle for the. amazon domain name suffix. Amazon has also announced it is shutting all 87 of its US pop-up stores, ending a year-long experiment in real-world retail.
Chinese state versus start-ups
It would never happen in Silicon Valley. One way the Chinese state is seeking to clamp down on sectors deemed too hot and out of control is to help set up rivals to start-ups. State-backed companies are pushing into ride-hailing and peer-to-peer lending putting the likes of Didi Chuxing under pressure.
Sifted — the European start-up week
The Americans may be better at building the big rockets, for sure, but Europe is making an unprecedented push into space technology with a focus on dominating the fields of sensors, batteries and composite materials for drones and satellites. The European Space Agency is supporting hundreds of start-ups via incubators across the continent from Ringaskiddy in Ireland to Tartu in Estonia. “Nothing similar exists outside of Europe,” says Mark Boggett, managing director of London-based specialist space tech investor Seraphim Capital. Sifted goes inside the project and looks at the future of European space tech.
Elsewhere on Sifted this week; how a Swedish cleantech company won funding from the likes of Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma; a UK start-up building bionic arms; and we hear from twelve-year-old Leila Palmer about her experience of Microsoft’s DigiGirlz event to get young girls into tech.
How Alexa learns
The director of applied science for Alexa AI explains in Scientific American how Amazon researchers are aiding unsupervised learning by machines by finding ingenious ways to use and interpret data efficiently.
I was writing about the difficulty of holding onto digital memories yesterday, but this is carrying it to extremes. Gizmodo has the story of digital hoarders such as those on a Reddit forum who trade tips on building home data servers, share collections of rare files from video game manuals to ambient audio records, and discuss the best cloud services for backing up files.
Tech tools you can use — Tesla V3 Supercharger
Tesla says V3 is a completely new architecture for charging its electric cars. In a blog announcement on Wednesday, it claimed a Model 3 Long Range operating at peak efficiency would be able to recover up to 75 miles of charge in 5 minutes and charge at rates of up to 1,000 miles per hour. “Combined with other improvements we’re announcing today, V3 Supercharging will ultimately cut the amount of time customers spend charging by an average of 50 per cent.”
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