The FAANG club is unavoidable

2018 saw Microsoft make announcements through most product lines (including their surprise Adobe and SAP joint customer data project) with developments across Azure, Windows Virtual Desktop and Office 2019 generating the majority of search and social traffic. But what of the wider market – especially the tech companies that fall under the investor’s microscope more than any others? Zupa will always be proud to partner with Microsoft, however, we’re talking about FAANG – Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google.

The origin of this acronym differs greatly depending on where you consume your news. What we do know is Investopedia takes an early stake with their 2014 article highlighting the tech stocks that were then, the ‘five most popular and best-performing’. Whether or not you use the products and services offered by these giants, you’ll have noticed they’ve hit the headlines more frequently this year. Whilst Facebook combats fake news, Apple missed on iPhone sales. Amazon continues to engage in their own battles with Alibaba, and rumours persist around Google’s possible return to China.

Data Sources

What data can reflect what the market is really interested in? Using Google Trends to build our list we pitched ‘Internet & Telecom top search’ against ‘Worldwide Trends’, selecting the companies rather than namesake products. We’ve dug into the numbers to see how FAANG’s news finished the year; with results that produce two questions for these companies.

Facebook: ‘Sharing’, ‘NASDAQ’, ‘Netflix’, ‘Microsoft Corporation’

Apple: ‘Apple Watch’, ‘AirPods’, ‘Car Play’, ‘Inductive Charging’

Amazon: ‘Amazon Prime’, ‘Amazon Pay’, ‘Amazon Music’

Netflix: ‘Netflix Movies’, ‘Offers’, ‘FIOS’, ‘Free’

Google: ‘Google Translate’, ‘Home’, ‘Assistant’, ‘Photos’

Bonus Microsoft: ‘Outlook’, ‘Surface Pro’, ‘Skype’, ‘Free email’

Why this matters

– Data can mirror reputation; and for the FAANG companies, reputation is greatly magnified as shareholder risk. For all but Facebook, consumer services rated highly in searches. Here, Facebook’s results mirror the terrible year of headlines for the company, its platform and its leaders. It is therefore no surprise to find NASDAQ on the list. The worries spread to Netflix and Microsoft, as shareholders and the press investigate threats and contagion around the ‘club’ of the FAANG companies.

– In the results, half of this year’s major FAANG announcements don’t trend. Examples include Netflix announcing $13bn of production budget and Amazon producing an Echo for your car – finally proving their move into automotive.

The questions to ask

Whilst making allowances for the time-lag from leak/press release, to beta and through to General Availability, the question remains; with little longevity to news, why do events such as Microsoft Ignite and WWDC still run, and draw huge physical audiences? Steve Jobs, who perfected the ‘one more thing’ style of announcement was perhaps the main attraction for the 6,000 WWDC attendees – with tickets sold at $1,500. Now in the Tim Cook era, Macworld’s annual post-event write-up heavily features the section, ‘what they didn’t announce’.

One theory is that in the ultra competitive environments of Silicon Valley, development continues to mushroom and will always run to an irregular schedule (Zupa runs on Agile). Companies will continue to talk directly to consumers when it suits them, through the channels they choose. We saw this recently with Amazon’s Alexa Skills Blueprints (no ads, no keynotes!).

The other being, for the FAANG companies, large-scale announcements simply don’t matter anymore. We are all over-invested. Apple will not be worried their new line of MacBook Pros aren’t generating blockbuster search traffic. Whether consumers, business users, or stock traders, we are now programmed to continually watch and discuss these businesses – publicising their decisions amongst ourselves, socially.