At their annual F8 Facebook Developer Conference, Facebook announced its latest foray into invading your personal life: Creating Facebook notifications for everything in your household. As if you weren't already bombarded by your friends whom you haven't spoken to since high school asking you to join them on Farm Heroes Saga, you can now get notifications for things such as when you forget to water your plant, or when someone opens up your garage door.
This is all part of its new software development kit for Parse, a company Facebook acquired in 2013 for $85 million that offers a cloud backend for mobile app developers. According to The Verge, Parse's goal is to "make it easy for apps built on Parse to share data with connected devices like smart locks and lightbulbs."
Parse already has its hand in the world of IoT with companies like Chamberlain, who uses its REST API for garage door openers, and Roost, which uses Parse for smoke detectors. Facebook is now taking this technology, which displays alerts on your smartphone or laptop, and taking it "one step further."
Sarcastic cynicism aside, this sort of technology is actually extremely useful -- and practical. It's definitely something that I would have for my own home, should I ever decide to purchase a house (or whenever I pay off my college loans). But that begs the question: We're already plugged into our smartphones all day every day, and if I already have the option to use things like Roost, why do we need to take it one step further and add Facebook as an additional component?
The answer, in its most simplistic form, is that this is just a ploy for Facebook to stay relevant. Use among teenagers declined from 94 percent to 88 percent this past year, a drop that was so significant that, according toBloomberg, the company decided to skim over statistics of its platform's usage amongst the 13-17 age group for fear of alarming investors. Twitter and Instagram have both pretty successfully filled the top spot once occupied by Facebook, so it makes sense that they would branch out into other endeavors, lest they become the next MySpace (R.I.P.).
Microsoft, for example, may have lost the war against Google Chrome and Apple products, but its cushy $617 million licensing contract with the Department of Defense will keep them nice and profitable for a while. The agreement brought Microsoft Office, Windows 8 and Sharepoint to 75% of all DoD personnel, and more than makes up for whatever traction they might have lost after shuttering Internet Explorer and the less than stellar Windows Phone sales.
Facebook appears to be looking at all of its lucrative avenues as well. Acquiring Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion was one of Facebook's smarter moves to stay relevant, proving that if you can't beat them, you should use your millions of dollars to buy them out. The app, which at the time of purchase had little to no revenue, is now projected to make $5.8 billion by 2020 and has an estimated worth of $33 billion.
Facebook's latest endeavor into the Internet of Things seems to be another action by the company to position the social network as more than just a website, but as a "one brand fits all" tech giant. Much like Google has become much, much more than just a search engine, Facebook has recently made pushes for mobile users with its messaging app and has also created a decent news media aggregator on its site that tracks news trends based on key words and hashtags. And, with its open source offerings, it's becoming more and more developer friendly.