Pick your Platform: Faris Yakob on the future potential for Facebook

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What is the most innovative media platform in market today? That is the question MiC is posing to the industry, with Faris Yakob, co-founder of strategy and innovation consultancy Genius Steals and former chief innovation officer at MDC Partners first up to bat with a response, talking about the potential future for Facebook following last week’s acquisition of virtual reality company Oculus VR.

By: Faris Yakob

What constitutes a media platform? A medium, like television, is an assemblage term, meaning a kind of content, a distribution platform, a consumption platform. Digital strips these things apart, so content that was locked onto one platform can now move across others, where they can be embedded and shared. That said, on whatever screen, we’ve been restricted to the formats that have existed for a long time: video, pictures, text, sounds.

With Facebook buying Oculus Rift, we have the potential for a genuinely new kind of medium.

Facebook got pummeled by the market for not adapting to the biggest shift in digital media consumption thus far: the move to mobile. Mobile presents a whole new set of challenges and opportunities – especially if your business model is advertising. Ads are small, lack impact and are unwelcome on mobile devices.

FaceRift is a bet on the next stage of the internet, one long predicted in science fiction – the Metaverse from Snow Crash – a complete, collaborative, virtual environment. If Facebook turns Oculus into a dominant platform, Zuck has just bought the next generation operating system for humanity, which could replace the protocols we call the world wide web.

How will we navigate, create, socialize and shop in immersive virtual environments? What role will advertising and brands have? We will probably begin by building stores (just as we did in Second Life, due to a lack of imagination and experience), but if the platform takes off, we will need to rethink the role of the audience/user. To create experiences that are literally immersive, a whole new set of skills will be needed, just as companies have begun to realize that technology is a strategic, not a support function for every business.

So, while it’s still up to producers and consumers and the vagaries of fate to see what will happen, FaceRift might just become an (or the) innovative next generation media platform.

Or it might be Bird Flight Media – a media company that just launched in Vancouver that ties tiny banners to a variety of birds. But I assume that’s not real.

Yakob is the co-founder of Genius Steals, a strategy and innovation consultancy, and co-author of the book Digital State. Subcribe to the weekly Strands of Genius newsletter to feed your head with awesome.

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