WeChat. iMessage. Skype.
Just three of the firms/features listed today by Nick Clegg, in an NYT op-ed* about why Facebook shouldn’t be broken up.
The first misunderstanding is about Facebook itself and the competitive dynamics in which we operate. We are a large company made up of many smaller pieces. All of our products and services fight for customers. Each one has at least three or four competitors with hundreds of millions, if not billions, of users. In photo and video-sharing, we compete against services like YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest and TikTok, an emerging competitor.
In messaging, we’re not even the leader in the top three markets — China, Japan and, by our estimate, the United States — where we compete with Apple’s iMessage, WeChat, Line and Microsoft’s Skype. Globally, the context in which social media must be understood, China alone has several large social media companies, including powerhouses like Tencent and Sina. It will seem perverse to people in Europe, and certainly in China, to see American policymakers talking about dismantling one of America’s biggest global players.
Not mentioned, obviously, is the extent to which Facebook has hobbled Snapchat by blatantly ripping off its features — and how it has tried to do the same to others, with less success.
I’d love to know exactly on what grounds Skype is considered a competitor. It stands out as a real barrel-scrape to me.
Meanwhile, a rep working with a major online activism platform told me last week that he (and plenty others) is suspicious of Facebook’s regulation motivations. Sweeping new rules could create an atmosphere where only giants can afford to operate, he said.
(*Getting pretty tired of these op-eds, obviously written by PR committee, getting such a big play in the press given how few on-the-record interviews about these issues take place.)