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Is Facebook Becoming The Internet? - Gaming, Music, Productivity & No Need for Hardware

{h2}Gaming, Music, Productivity & No Need for Hardware{h2}

Of course a trial is one thing, a runaway success is another. So the same day Rovio confirmed Angry Birds would launch on Facebook in May. Having clocked up over 75 million downloads so far Rovio has its own plans for world domination, including a currency system of its own – the Bad Piggybank, but expect a head-on between the two companies to only end one way.

So Facebook is a social networking site where you can probably rent videos and play the most popular games sooner or later. Big deal. At least MySpace still controls music. Well, not exactly.

Moves are afoot here too. On 19 January popular download site WaTunes moved all its operations to Facebook to become a 'Facebook Music Store app'. The move garnered industry approval and saw it secure a licence with Sony Music, the last of the big four labels to escape WaTune's grasp. Now it offers over 10 million tracks for download directly through the social networking site. Pricing is currently in dollars, but for how long?

No wonder Facebook won't play nicely with Apple. On launching its fairly meek social networking service Ping, Steve Jobs explained its lack of Facebook integration was because the terms were too "onerous". Facebook had wanted to connect its friends through Ping, not allow Apple to build up a social network of its own. No compromise has been reached and why would it be? Facebook is sounding more like an App Store every day.

In fact it is more than that. Facebook is sounding more like an OS every day. It has already unveiled Titan, its ongoing project to integrate IM, email and SMS. Users will even get @facebook.com addresses. Meanwhile there is Microsoft Office integration ('Docs' above) and the 'Like' button has seen most of the web willingly sign up to feel like nothing more than Facebook offshoots.

Is nothing off limits? Actually yes, hardware. Analysts had long claimed Facebook was keen to build a phone. We dismissed this idea in September before Zuckerberg himself stepped forward to ridicule the notion in November. The only value in building a phone is to make people go to Facebook and everyone is doing that on their phones already. Facebook integration is a fundamental selling point for all handsets. The newest platform on the block, Windows Phone, has ingrained Facebook into its core functionality while HTC's ChaCha and Salsa and Inq's Cloud Touch and Cloud Q do Facebook's dirty work for it.

At the moment Facebook seems to have all the answers. HP can install WebOS on all its PCs, Microsoft can dominate web browsers, Google can win the battle for the Cloud and Apple can sell a billion iPhones, but Zuckerberg won't care if it is all used to access Facebook.

So "Is Facebook the Internet?" No. The tech savvy will always have their specific needs and a fervent belief in the power of competition. For the mainstream, however, it is becoming the platform of choice. A Windows for the web. And with it every positive and negative connotation that conjures.

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