Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Is Facebook going out of control?

Facebook seems to be trying to do too many things at once. First, it acquired Instagram for an astronomical US$1bil. Till now, I do not see how Instagram has become an integrated Facebook experience for the end user. Using the same log-in account for both Facebook and Instagram, I added some pictures to Instagram and expect to see it popping up in Facebook, or at least appearing in an intuitive way. That did not happen.

Next, Facebook tried to hijack users' email account by switching them over to a Facebook-generated email account. That did not go down too well with many people. To add salt to the wound, some users reported that have lost some emails in that fiasco. Facebook has since rescinded on that track - for now.

Facebook now wants to be your online bill payment system. It is trying to get users to pay their bills and other online banking functions in an integrated manner, unlikely as it sounds (what - doing online banking while facebooking with friends?). It is planning a beta launch with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia for an imminent release.

My question is, has Facebook lost the plot? Is it trying to do too many things at once? In software development, this is called scope creep. Perhaps it is trying very hard to impress the stockholders, now that it has gone public. Scope creep is seldom a good sign. Software turns into bloatware. Users' experience turns into frustration as unwanted features start taking over and dictating to the users what they do not need. In the end, the software loses its original identity and the very reason that attracted users to it in the first place. Remember Nero? Nero was the most popular CD burner software in its time. Then it tried to do everything, including video creation, image editing, music, etc. The do-it-all product was released and that was the end we have heard of it.

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