Facebook: How soon before it’s circling the drain?

At the moment, Facebook’s only selling point is the network effect from the size of it’s user base. People put up with the appallingly bad user experience and increasingly mercenary behaviour because all their friends are there. I think it’s only a matter of time before a competitor reaches a critical mass of users and Facebook goes the way of AOL and MySpace. It will happen sooner and far more rapidly than many people think.

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4 Responses to Facebook: How soon before it’s circling the drain?

  1. Serdar says:

    Another reason people tolerate how appalling Facebook is: they simply don’t know anything else is possible. Or the competition is just so bad, so disorganized and fragmented (hello, Diaspora, how’s *that* going?) that they can’t offer anything like a true competitive experience.

    In an interview with another tech maven — a 15-year vet of Microsoft — he noted that people change phones very easily. Because there’s so little genuine competition between social networks, and so little portability, there’s no incentive to jump ship.

    See my rant about “seven telephones” for more on that score: http://www.genjipress.com/2012/12/antisocial-networking-dept.html

  2. Tim Hall says:

    I saw that “seven telephones” rant, and it was something in my mental file of “things to blog about”. It’s a very good analogy.

    Had a discussion with one friend on Facebook, who said he likes Facebook as a “one stop shop” rather than keep track of dozens of different forums and blogs.

    What I’d love to see is an ecosystem of different web services which do one thing and do them well, be it photo sharing, blogging, conversation spaces or one-stop content aggregation, all talking to each other via open APIs and standards like RSS rather than trying to established independent walled gardens. That way there would be genuine competion on user experience and ads vs. subscriptions between them.

  3. Serdar says:

    As would I. The technology exists; it’s just that for most people, Facebook is the most convenient way to corral all those things together. It requires absolutely zero effort, but it comes at a cost I don’t like.

    What I’d like to see is an outfit that creates a totally open social network system, which can be used freely but with certain functions limited (e.g., only X number of API usages per day), and with a for-pay version that has no limits. The problem is, the only folks I see having enough juice to pull together something like that would be more inclined to just make it a walled garden and monetize it that way.

  4. Tim Hall says:

    I think that’s the idea behind app.net and Disaspora. Whether they’ll get anywhere near the Facebook/Twitter level without turning into walled gardens, I don’t know.