The doomsday squad believes that Facebook is going to die and Mark Zuckerberg is out of ideas, but Zuckerberg wants the world to know that he is just getting started.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Zuckerberg detailed his plans for the future of Facebook and discussed what many consider the company's failures or weaknesses. Zuckerberg thinks that anyone who discounts Facebook as old hat and unfashionable, is very short sighted.
Zuckerberg views Facebook as a living organism that is constantly growing and changing. Some projects are in incubation; others are like toddlers, stumbling along and making fun mistakes; and some aren't even born yet. Zuckerberg also believes that Facebook is more multifaceted than most people think.
"So Facebook is not one thing," Zuckerberg said. "On desktop where we grew up, the mode that made the most sense was to have a website, and to have different ways of sharing built as features within a website. So when we ported to mobile, that's where we started - this one big blue app that approximated the desktop presence."
Zuckerberg added that his new goal is to work with Creative Labs on the process of "unbundling the big blue app."
"[O]n mobile, people want different things," Zuckerberg said. "Ease of access is so important. So is having the ability to control which things you get notifications for. And the real estate is so small. In mobile there's a big premium on creating single-purpose first-class experiences."
So far, Facebook has only started this process. It has Messenger and Paper mobile apps out right now that offer a different kind of Facebook experience. Zuckerberg sees the addition of WhatsApp to the Facebook fold as an opportunity to expand Facebook's reach as a company without expanding the name Facebook as a brand.
"One of the things that we're trying to do with Creative Labs and all our experiences is explore things that aren't all tied to Facebook identity," Zuckerberg said. "Some things will be, but not everything will have to be, because there are some sets of experiences that are just better with other identities."
WhatsApp and Instagram will keep their names and they won't be gobbled up by Facebook or changed dramatically the way many users have feared. WhatsApp won't be converted into a new Facebook Messenger. Instead, Zuckerberg sees WhatsApp as an independent product that offers an entirely different service.
"One thing is that Facebook Messenger is actually a really successful thing. More than 10 billion messages a day that flow through Facebook's messaging products," Zuckerberg said. "But I think we basically saw that the messaging space is bigger than we'd initially realized, and that the use cases that WhatsApp and Messenger have are more different than we had thought originally. Messenger is more about chatting with friends and WhatsApp is like an SMS replacement. Those things sound similar, but when you go into the nuances of how people use it, they are both very big in different markets."
Zuckerberg says that overall, he thinks Facebook's various mobile products are where they should be based on the stage of life they are currently at. He isn't terribly concerned by the loss of teens on Facebook's main platform and thinks that the company's other products will pick up that slack. Still, he admits that knowing your users is important.
"[U]nderstanding who you serve is always a very important problem, and it only gets harder the more people that you serve," Zuckerberg said. "We try to pay a lot of attention to this by a combination of very rigorous quantitative and qualitative feedback. But if you're serving 1.2 billion people, it's very hard."
Hard it may be, but Zuckerberg thinks it's possible to keep everyone happy if the company's offerings are wide enough.