Facebook Could Buy Netflix, Mobile Assets, Leverage Big Data

Facebook could make some big-time acquisitions, such as bidding for streaming video giant Netflix, or snapping up some mobile assets. Big data may also be on tap.

Facebook's $5 billion IPO will give the company the capital boost to expand into new services and make some larger acquisitions it might not want or be able to do while private, analysts agree.

Gartner analyst Ray Valdes believes Facebook might use its new capital to acquire larger companies than it has in the past. Facebook spent $68 million on small acquisitions in 2011, acquiring companies such as Beluga, Snaptu and Gowalla for engineering talent.

Facebook could depart from such so-called "acquhires" to buy something big and game-changing. Like what? Like Netflix, which faces significant challenges from Amazon.

The e-commerce giant is reportedly planning to add a paid subscription service to Amazon Instant Video streaming service. Netflix could find itself squeezed between the e-commerce giant and Hulu's streaming TV service.

Facebook, which already showed an interest in testing social movie-watching, teaming with Warner Bros. to screen "The Dark Knight" right in the social network, could be the soft landing Netflix would need.

"That's the kind of thing that Facebook could do," Valdes agreed. "They could move into television, into entertainment, into games, into hardware, into mobile."

Should Facebook acquire Netflix it would gain a massive vault of movies and TV shows to serve users. Facebook could charge them per view, or on a subscription service as consumers currently purchase movies from the streaming services.

Facebook could also make some significant acquisitions in mobile to compete with Apple iOS and Google's Android platforms. The company noted in its S-1 filing Feb. 1 that mobile remains a vast, untapped market for the company, despite the fact that more than half of its 845 million users access the network from mobile devices.

However, Facebook's options in the mobile market appear muddier. Research In Motion, considered an acquisition target, is troubled on many levels. HP, which gave up on making mobile phones and tablets, is open-sourcing webOS.