“People want to go on the Internet and check out their friends. So why not build a web site that offers that. Friends, pictures, profiles. I’m talking about taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online.” –Mark Zuckerberg, via “The Social Network”
To enable this vision, Facebook has developed a platform that enables third-party developers to build solutions that can be consumed from within Facebook’s social platform. For example,Zynga has developed a series of social games that enable Facebook friends to build virtual empires, cities and even farms. Facebook’s platform takes real people, their relationships, their likes and dislikes, and turns that information into a cloud-based programmable avatar. This programmable avatar of over 750 million people has become a really valuable way for companies to interact with us, driving estimates that Facebook could be worth $100 billion or more.
It might surprise you to know that there is another market creating programmable avatars on a global scale. This market is of much larger scope and size than that of Facebook, yet is currently flying under the radar. Consider this: while Facebook is attempting to digitize and “platformize” every Internet user in the world (currently more than 2 billion people), the Machine-to-Machine market is doing exactly the same with all of the world’s machines, devices, and real-time information sources – over 7 trillion potential targets and counting.
So what does it mean to platformize a machine? Much like Facebook does for people, a programmable avatar of a machine provides a platform for other machines and people to interact with it. Consider that every person within Facebook is the hub of a social graph – a new technology term for mapping relationships such as friends, acquaintances, causes and companies that occur within the system. In M2M, the machine becomes the hub of a new type of social graph, one between other machines, businesses and consumers.
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