Tag Archives: Trends

The Problem With Facebook: Is It Really Out of Room to Grow?

I rarely read the front page of YouTube, but today when I typed in YouTube to my address bar (with the intention of finding some music to listen to while I worked), one of the videos I saw on the front page was titled “The Problem With Facebook.” Truth be told, I thought it was a video by MinutePhysics and thought that there was going to be some scientific explanation of Facebook’s problems, but it turns out the video was by 2veritasium. (I guess MinutePhysics may have liked the video, so that’s why I saw their name or maybe they had just come out with another video, who knows.)

Anyway, if you have Facebook (or had Facebook) or know anything about Facebook, I’d say it’s worth the 6 and a half minutes to watch it:

I’m not sure what the fellow’s name is, but it reminds me of when George Takei went on a bit of a rant about Facebook not letting him reach all of his fans on Facebook. At the time, I think I still had a Facebook profile (rather than the page I have now) and I thought that was strange that your posts weren’t reaching all of your friends — by design.

The fellow in this video makes that same point, but he does it in a more thorough way than I remember Takei doing it (which is not to say Takei didn’t do it), and he also juxtaposes Facebook with YouTube. He makes a rather compelling argument, but something I don’t think he highlights is that he kind of has a vested interest in YouTube being more successful — his videos are hosted on YouTube! Now, this doesn’t really take anything away from the argument — it’s sound — but I think it’s worth noting.

Throughout the video, he talks about the incentives. I wonder what Michael Sandel would say about the incentives in this situation. Would he say that the incentives have been perverted? It’s tough to say because Facebook is trying to make money and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but I wonder if maybe they’ve strayed a bit too far from the original purpose of the site.

There’s one last thing I want to highlight from the video — in part — because it dovetails nicely with something that I’ve been trumpeting on here for awhile. He argues that Facebook has already maxed out, with regard to the amount of time people spend on the site per day (approximately 30 minutes) and that Facebook has already reached just about everyone in the developing world. When it comes to online video, however, he argues that there is still lots of room to grow based on the fact that people still don’t watch that much of it when compared to television. I might not put it in those words exactly, but I think he’s on the right track.

If even the President of the United States knows that Facebook is becoming or already is unpopular with young folks, I have to think that the smart people over at Facebook know this, too. As they’ve got a fiduciary duty to their shareholders, I’m sure they’ve been hard at work trying to figure out just how they’re going to capture more value — translation: how they are going to make more money.

Who knows… maybe Facebook will soon go the way of the social networks that have gone before it. Remember MySpace?

The Next Facebook: We’re Asking The Wrong Question

I wonder what it is about humans that make us so eager to find the next something. Awhile after eBay made it big with their online auction site, there were articles that popped up in newspapers, magazines, and other writing outlets, positing what would be the next eBay. Even though eBay has been around for nearly 15 years, there are still articles written about what will be the next eBay (a sampling: , , and ). The confusing thing for me is, why are we looking for the next eBay, shouldn’t we be looking for the next big thing — in general?

The same question that was asked when eBay made it big is being asked about Facebook now that it has gotten so big. “What’s going to be the next Facebook?” (Again, a sampling: , , and .) I can even remember an article about how one of the original investors in Facebook, , thinks that . How, or maybe more accurately, why are these people trying to figure out what the next Facebook is going to be? I wonder if it’s more a stature thing. They are asking about what is going to be the next big thing rather than what will bump these internet companies from atop the food chain.

Some of the articles I’ve read about this area really trying to figure out what is going to usurp eBay or Facebook from their status as an online auction site (or social networking site, in Facebook’s case). To my mind, there really won’t ever be a next eBay or a next Facebook. The technology that knocks Facebook off of its pedestal will not be seen coming as the next Facebook. It might even be something totally different. It could be something more scientific, really, that garners support and slowly starts to grow across a few industries. I think it’s ludicrous to think that there will be a next anything with regard to the kinds of technology and organizations that we have today.

Facebook is too smart (and beginning to be too powerful) to let a start-up come up with an idea that is slightly off-center of Facebook, but that could siphon off Facebook’s users. They have more than enough money to dedicate to R & D that will have the company expanding upon itself for quite some time.

Companies like Facebook and eBay succeed because they have found a ‘sweet spot.’ In the Venn diagram to the right, the ‘sweet spot’ would be characterized by the triple intersection of A, B, and C, in either the top left portion, highlighted by a bright green color, or in the bottom portion, highlighted by a mix of red, green, and blue. This triple intersection can vary from (revolution) to (revolution). I think one of the main reasons for the success of eBay was in part due to the Western world’s undeniable urge to shop. As the internet started to grow, people began seeing the internet as a legitimate place to buy things. As eBay was a place to buy things, naturally, people flocked to the site. As they learned they could also sell things to, well, then it just took off.

For eBay, and more importantly in the case of Facebook, the development of their company (or product) filled a desire in the population that the population didn’t otherwise know existed. People didn’t really know (before Facebook came) that they wanted to spend countless hours on the computer interacting with their friends. I think that articles that try to pinpoint what the next anything is going to be are a little near-sighted. If these people were really curious as to what the next big thing was going to be, they should be trying to identify desires of the population that haven’t already been satisfied. I suppose if they could do that, they’d probably not be writing articles about it.