I first received an Invitation to join Facebook in the second half of 2006, just when we were getting used to Orkut. I joined it thinking it was a rip off of Orkut since Orkut had already become a rage in India by then. However, it did not take me too long to figure out that Facebook was actually the real deal and will soon change everything.
Facebook made networking so easy that people stopped speaking on phone, MSN and Chat Rooms went out of the window, Orkut become obsolete. Everybody was getting used to Facebook. Facebook had arrived. It took Facebook less than a year to become the preferred networking option.
Every person in the age group of 18-24 was on Facebook and that was Advantage Facebook. People were themselves on Facebook, they did not have to care about their uncles reading their posts and seeing their pictures. Everybody loved it. Youngsters spent hours just refreshing their home page, no one had been exposed to anything like this ever before. The future of communication was here.
However, how sustainable is Facebook?
Almost everything on the Internet that is not making a difference in people’s life or that can’t be replicated is a fad, Facebook is no different. Just like it took Facebook, less than a year to wipe out all other previously used networking options on the Internet, something more powerful is going to come along and change everything all over again. Is that not the Rule for anything on the Internet? There are exceptions though, Google, Microsoft, Apple are companies with too much content to be considered a fad, they have multiple products in multiple domains which prevents them from going out of business overnight. But Facebook is just one single product.
Facebook, needs to act Fast, Really Fast!
I personally feel that Facebook is already on its way out. People have options to be connected on the move now, they do not want to be stuck to a desktop or even a laptop for that matter. They have phones, really powerful phones. Facebook’s mistake is that it took Facebook ages to realize this opportunity and by that time Whatsapp and Blackberry with BBM had already capitalized on this market. Facebook still had enough fuel to outcast these competitors with its strong 800+ Million Active Users but Facebook was just too lazy. Now Facebook is playing catch up and it still looks lethargic.
A Product Vs A Company
Facebook needs to diversify, create more products inside Facebook, just like Google did. Google saw an opportunity and created Android and look what Android did for Google but Facebook is still sticking to an App. Google capitalized on the cell phone market big time with its Android, Facebook had the exact same opportunity but it failed to capitalize.
The problem is with the mindset; Facebook does not want to deviate from being a Social Networking Platform and will therefore always be a product and never a company. If Facebook chose to come out with an OS, it would have made a kill in the phone market but it stuck to its slow ways and now faces extinction.
Facebook for example is a competitor of Google+. For Google, Google+ is a product, for Facebook, Facebook is all it has. So if Google+ fails, Google will just forget about it and move on. But if Facebook fails, it is all over for Facebook. Facebook missed an awesome opportunity to enter the tele-communications market and that along with the lack of diversity is what is going to bring its downfall.
People check Facebook just because they are used to it, not because they enjoy it. In stark contrast, see people on Whatsapp throughout the day and you will see the share of mind and share of heart clearly deviated. Facebook already seems to have lost the battle.
Generations on FB:
Another thing that seems to have not gone Facebook’s way is people growing on Facebook. When we joined Facebook, it was a place for the young. Then these young people grew up and the ones who joined Facebook too early have now grown to say a 32-36 age bracket. Apart from these people started getting their parents and grand parents to join Facebook. Today, Facebook has teenagers, young adults, just married people, mid aged folks and their parents and grand parents.
Just like you would not want all generations of people in a nightclub, you would not want all generations on Facebook. Facebook used to be for the young. Today, it is for everyone. Facebook’s popularity is what is killing it.
Facebook needs to sit down and look at their strategy and see where they are headed. They need to redefine their goals and this time unlike last time, they need take the external environment into consideration. They need to figure out how they are going to reach these goals since at this point, they are left far behind in this race. They have changed the way the world communicates once; will they be able to do it again? Or was it just a fluke?