In his speech, Pincus envisioned a world that runs on an app economy, where it’s easy to access and use sophisticated software on any device or platform via Web services.
The current platform is booming and has grown tremendously. But it has a chance to become universal, so much so that apps could take over traditional websites as the way users interact with all software. To get there, Facebook faces a critical choice in the next 12 to 18 months, Pincus said.
Pincus added, “It would bother me if (something as innovative as the location-based Twitter game) Foursquare is not built on the Facebook platform. An analogy is Windows. If it had not been the home of Excel or the web browser, then it would not have grown” into Microsoft’s cash cow.
The other choice, he said, is to focus on being a social portal, with a business model supported by advertising.
“They have a more obvious business model around being a portal,” Pincus said. “I hope they find the business model around the plumbing.”
Essentially, he’s saying: you can be a portal and make money off advertising. Or, you can change the game and become part of the fabric of the WWW. One is simple, clear, and fairly obvious. The other is riskier, bigger, but with potentially much more reward. And … it’s much more world-changing.
The corollary that comes to my mind? Steve Jobs telling John Sculley: do you want to sell sugar water for a living, or do you want to change the world?
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