There seems to be a lot going on at the big blue social network these days. A spate of headlines from the past several weeks have outlined some very ambitious plans: Facebook is building a real-time news tool that could kill Twitter. Facebook's testing shopping products that could take on Amazon. Facebook's making its own YouTube.
On Friday, the company officially shared news on its video plans, saying that it's testing "new video experiences" for its mobile and desktop versions. These include features on the site that will suggest related videos, let users multitask while watching video and save videos to watch for later. Per the blog post announcing the effort, Facebook is also launching a new, dedicated section on the social network just for videos:
This new videos section helps people discover, watch and share videos on Facebook that are relevant to them. It can be accessed by tapping a “Videos” icon at the bottom of the Facebook app on iPhone or in the “Favorites” section on the left-hand side of News Feed on the web.
What is going on? Well, it's all part of Facebook's really open and not-at-all secret plan to take over the world -- by supplanting the Web with its own apps as much as possible.
Facebook is actually in a pretty good position to do this, at least in the United States. Americans spend far more time using apps than they do the mobile Web; according to a July report from Yahoo's mobile analytics firm Flurry, we spend 90 percent of our mobile time in an app. A full 19 percent of that time is devoted solely to using Facebook.
Facebook has made no bones about its plans for expansion; Zuckerberg has talked about bringing Facebook to more of people's lives — or expanding the things you can do with its products. Acquisitions of WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus, for example, all give the company a chance to control more of what we do online, beyond the boundaries of shares and likes
"Facebook used to be a single blue app that did lots of different things," Zuckerberg said at last year's f8. "Now Facebook is a family of apps."
With its built-in access to your preferences and your friends' preferences, as well as the social power of being able to see what friends are watching, the potential is certainly there for Facebook's video section to become a machine for making viral hits, or even for broadcasting. (The company added the ability for some users to streamlive video in August.)
YouTube is a stiff competitor and chances are that Facebook, even with a special video section, won't completely replace it. But if Facebook wants to essentially be the one-stop shop for the Web, it makes sense to ramp up its focus on video. Video is, after all, an increasingly important medium online for consumers and, therefore, for advertisers.
That's especially notable on mobile devices, which is how most of Facebook's users access the social network. Market research firm eMarketer says that U.S. adults will spend an average 26 minutes per day with digital video on mobile devices this year — a number it expects will rise as more people opt to watch digital video instead of traditional TV.