I think that Facebook will slowly see a MySpace-like death. It will become a victim of it’s own popularity. The bottom line is that the ONLY reason Facebook is popular is because people have their friends on it. Take that away and there is no reason to go there.
Kids are what drove Facebook’s meteoric rise and they will cause it’s demise. Kids will move to their own next big thing or just grow up and use it less and less. The new generation of kids just getting their taste of social networking will latch onto a different platform and blaze their own trail. Now that parents and grandparents are on there, Facebook looses cool factor. The younger generations don’t want their parents’ and grandparents’ noses in their day-to-day lives. For the older generation it’s a novelty and they will just stop using it.
I’ve gone weeks without opening Facebook and didn’t miss it. I didn’t die. My life wasn’t changed. It’s fun, but not inherently important.
Facebook fanboys will pooh pooh my theory and rattle off logical reasons why Facebook is not the next MySpace (Farmville, apps, mobile). I respond by saying it’s not the feature set that changes the game. It’s who really drives the popularity (the kids) and why they visit (because their friends are there).
Businesses are successful long-term because they have the ability to control the supply of their TRUE product and there is a demand for it. Facebook cannot control their users’ groups of friends. Period. It may not be fast or easy, but the same exact friend groups can be created on any social networking site.
Apple, for example, really sells innovation, not computers or phones. Sure they have patents and copyrights to protect their devices, but it’s obvious that Android and Windows can eventually match performance and features. However, Apple in recent times has been just a step ahead of their competition. They control the supply of their true product: innovation. If Apple were to rest on their laurels or, more likely, take a wrong turn in major product development, demand would suffer; competitors would catch up. If it took too long for Apple to correct course, consumers might permanently jump ship to Android or Windows.
As long as Apple continues to innovate in a popular way and avoids a major/long misstep, they will prosper. Since Facebook has no control over the actual network of friends, they are ultimately doomed.
I’ve shared this theory–and it is just a theory–with my 17-year old daughter and she can’t see a world without Facebook. However, rewind three or four years and she would have said the same thing about MySpace. I might have said the same thing about Yahoo, yet now I never use that. I might have said the same about Windows, but here I’m typing this on an iPad.
It will probably take years to see what happens. I think Zuckerberg is missing the boat by not going public. It just *feels* like Facebook has reached it’s top.