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Facebook’s mystery announcement

Cara Waters /

Things are looking up for Facebook, with its shares rebounding and speculation growing around a mysterious announcement to be made tomorrow.

The social networking giant is hosting a media event at its California headquarters on Tuesday, January 15 (about Wednesday morning Australian time).

The detail of the event is sparse, with the invitation simply saying “come and see what we are building”.

However, news of the announcement along with the easing of concerns over the social network’s ability to build revenue has seen Facebook’s shares rise 1.3% to $US31.72 ($30.11) in New York.

That’s an increase of 79% from a record low in September last year following Facebook’s botched initial public offering in March.

The float ended up being an over-hyped and over-priced disaster for the social network.

It didn’t help that the Nasdaq went into meltdown under the pressure from the IPO, with traders unable to confirm their trades until mid-afternoon.

However, the fundamental reason behind the float’s flop was the promoters selling too many shares at a price that stretched even the most optimistic of valuations.

Since then, although Facebook is used by more than one billion people around the world, the stock has been languishing and analysts have been sceptical about the ability of Facebook to turn its users into cold hard cash.

However, now optimism is growing about Facebook’s ability to advertise to its growing number of mobile users.

TechCrunch recently reported that 20% of ad spend on Facebook is going mobile.

In Australia there was also positive feedback from local SME MiiBrand, which ran a mobile app install campaign on Facebook over the Christmas holidays which it claims resulted in its app skyrocketing into the top 10 lifestyle apps in Australia.

While the details of the Facebook announcement are unknown, that hasn’t stopped the speculation.  CNBC is tipping the announcement will be advertising related as the social network has been working on a number of advancements for its ad business, including video ads and an ad network, to deliver targeted ads to sites across the web.

There is also speculation the announcement could be about a new Facebook operating system for mobile devices or even a Facebook phone.

With so much of Facebook’s growth coming from emerging markets, where expensive smartphones like iPhones and Androids are limited, it’s possible Facebook is going to work better on lower-end phones.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has previously discussed the massive potential in search and the next step for Facebook would be a better way to search within Facebook, with the social network eventually able to deliver targeted search results from across the web.

Maybe the whole announcement is just an attempt to generate buzz without much substance behind it.

All will be revealed tomorrow, but at this stage the mystery announcement has at least improved some of the sentiment around the social network.

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is a former SmartCompany editor. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter for the Financial Times' website and worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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