Facebook is building its own OS – lifeboat or new foundation?

Facebook OS
Image credit | Hulton Collection

In an age where collaboration, co-operation and openness are the watchwords, news that Facebook is to build its own OS has caused much comment.

The aim, according to Tech Crunch and others, is to protect their future AR and VR hardware products. They want to ‘make sure the next generation has space for us’ according to Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth, head of hardware.

He goes on to say “we don’t think we can trust the marketplace or competitors to ensure that’s the case. And so we’re gonna do it ourselves.”

On the face of it, it makes sense to build its own platform to control the roadmap and they have tagged the guy who gave us Microsoft NT to do it.

On the other hand it does fly in the face of the openness and standards and interoperability that is being promoted across the telecoms and tech industry.

You have to wonder, in light of the increasing amounts of bad news and negativity being brought to bear against Facebook, that the company’s own predictions for 2020 are so negative that they are having to build their own lifeboat. Perhaps they believe that Google, Amazon et al have seen the chinks appearing in its armour (along with the negative outlook for social media generally) and see an opportunity to crush the ‘social’ media giant.

That, perhaps, may be too cynical. But with yet another recent, massive data breach and with users not just stopping their use of Facebook but making a song and dance about the fact they are leaving, it is becoming desperate to create new and bulletproof lines of business and revenue.

It has tried before. It was about to deliver the internet (and Facebook) to the whole of Africa. It is an integral part of the Telecoms Infrastructure Project – which is fine but not about to deliver revenue in the short term. And, of course, it was the spearhead of the Libra project, a not very subtle way of becoming the de facto payments and money transfer platform for the world.

Perhaps unfairly, the Libra project has been brought to a halt by political agendas and scared partners but nevertheless it is a major setback.

So, whether building its own OS is a lifeboat or the foundations of future AR glory will become plain.

The fact remains, however, that life will continue to be tough for Facebook for the foreseeable future.

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