Mark Cuban, Others Talk Future of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, & Google

11/9/12Follow @jpruth

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the company may have dulled its strategic edge after going public. “Rather than focus on the experience, end users, advertisers, or the brands, it was about ‘We better not disappoint Wall Street’,” Cuban said.

That mode of thinking may have led to reactionary changes at the company aimed at pleasing investors though with questionable results. For example, Cuban was irked by promoted Facebook posts, which marketers pay for. A number of his companies had made their Facebook pages their primary online destination for their fans. “All of the sudden in order to reach all of those people that ‘liked’ us, we had to pay for our friends,” Cuban said. He joked that while he is used to paying for friends he did not want to be forced to do so.

Rather than worry about what investors think, Cuban believes Facebook needs to follow another company’s example and focus on innovation. “They really should look at Amazon as a template for what they should be doing,” he said.

After Amazon went public, Cuban said, CEO Jeff Bezos focused on the future and where the business was going to be regardless of Wall Street’s reaction. That included investments in robotics, warehouses, and distribution. “A lot of the things you’re seeing with the Kindle now were reflected in different types of investments back then,” Cuban said. “You’re not seeing those types of things with Facebook.”

Reacting to opinions stymies businesses’ ability to make necessary leaps forward, Cuban said. “The job of a visionary in a company is to anticipate and send your product or service in the direction of where you think it needs to be,” he said. “I think Facebook has lost that.”

And looking to the future is what Apple needs to do as well, according to Cuban. While the company strives to make sleeker, better versions of the iPad and iPhone, he wonders what will be the next big thing in mobile. “I don’t think anybody believes the form factor and function of iPads or iPhones, regardless of size, is the be-all, end-all,” he said. “This is not what we’re going to be using in five years.”

The cool factor, which has been a driver in the success of Apple’s products, wears off quickly. Cuban expects the paradigm in mobile to change again but it is unclear if Apple will continue to be the trendsetter in the sector. “If you had an iPhone 5, you could get into bars for free,” he said. “The chicks would dig you if you had an iPhone 5. But that works once.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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