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OLIVER: WhatsApp not enough to save dying Facebook

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eric_cutoutIf you had the choice of a private island, a Picasso painting, a professional sports franchise and WhatsApp, what would you choose?

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg chose WhatsApp, a free texting service, which they acquired for $19 billion last week in an attempt to improve their messaging service and regain a youthful audience that is slowly disengaging from the social platform.

Critics praised the acquisition as the groundbreaking move that Facebook needed to stay ahead of the curve. In reality, this purchase is unlikely to make the dent Facebook needs to refresh its stale and aging image. It’s a ton of money to move a very small distance along the technology curve.

Facebook is incredibly popular with our generation and our parents’ generations. The adaption rate is much lower for the older people, but on Facebook, they are some of the most active users.

When it comes to the future of Facebook, the social media site faces a problem. The younger generation moved away from the social media site, gravitating toward Snapchat and other small social networking platforms.

Zuckerberg said he thinks that the $19 billion price tag was a smart spend to lure young generation back to Facebook. But a refreshed Facebook Messenger won’t really make a difference.

The immense popularity of Snapchat and the much smaller networks is exclusive to those platforms. They have very targeted uses. Zuckerberg paid to be the number one messaging app and for the 450 million active users that WhatsApp proudly bragged about. So now he’ll just be the big fish in a highly saturated pond fighting the likes of iMessage, Blackberry Messenger and Google Chat.

Is a renewed chat client going to solve the problem that Facebook just feels old to young people? No.

Think about it. What new idea has Facebook come up with that was successful recently? Remember the Facebook phone, or the button that instantly posts things to your wall? I don’t see either of them around anymore, and they were considered cutting edge at the time. Then Facebook, after attempting to launch its own photo filter service, bought Instagram. When that wasn’t enough, it launched a Snapchat knockoff that lasted all of two weeks before it tried to buy up the original.

Zuckerberg is on a shopping spree to try to make Facebook stick for the long haul. The social network has an expiration date, and it is coming fast as the company falls behind the curve.

If Zuckerberg expects a new app to refresh his service, then he is crazier than “The Social Network” paints him to be. The public is moving past Facebook. It isn’t going to shut down anytime soon – everyone over 15 years old won’t let it – but once the younger generation grows up, the days of Zuckerberg will be a faint memory.

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