The actions a company takes make more sense when considered in the context of its intentions. A few weeks back I posted some thoughts on the brand promise. This week is an interesting week to think about intention.
Many years ago Steve Ballmer said he wanted to get a small(ish) payment from every computer user every year instead of selling packaged software. This it seems has largely been forgotten by the press -- and frankly I cannot even remember what year it was when he said it. I am quite sure it was long before the popularization of the cloud. Maybe 10 years ago?
Either way, I think this is still Microsoft's intention. Microsoft wants to have a pretty good solution for just about any computing need and would be perfectly happy if everyone purchased subscriptions to gain access to everything Microsoft makes. I think of Microsoft as the tool superstore of computing, and their desired business model is to have everyone pay for access to the superstore and then be able to use anything.
Google's intention is to get in between us and the information we want. They realized early on that in order to do this they would need to know a great deal about us. Smart guys that they are, they anticipated that we would be very nervous about anyone that knew too much about us, so they developed the motto "Don't be evil" to encourage themselves to behave well and to put us at ease. I think of Google as the toll booth on the highway. Right now the tolls are being paid by advertisers, and there are other highways, but Google's desire is to have a toll booth on every highway.
Apple's intention is to be the maker of shiny objects. Steve Jobs knows that the desire for the latest and greatest shiny object is nearly insatiable and he has set out to be the guy that defines and delivers them. When people say that his creations don't do everything, he says -- the things that my devices don't do, don't need to be done. I think of Apple as Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. The stuff is just so amazing we don't even care what it costs or what it does not do.
So Facebook. It does appear that Facebook has a highly targeted desire to be the single point of identity management on the web. The question is -- what is their intention?