I’d like to coin a phrase to label a period in social web use that I think will happen in about 4-5 years time: The Facebook Crash. It isn’t a term I’m using for an outage of the site but more of a collapse of the site by lack of users, and a downward fall of the businesses’ value. In 10 years I think Facebook will have almost disappeared.
Think Facebook Too Big to Collapse?
If you think that then would you have thought Lycos, Excite, AOL, Myspace, Napster or Friends Reunited could fall so much while they were popular? Look at Yahoo! going through changes now they have given up on Search – their number one product, and having great difficulty finding a prolific space in other markets. Look at Digg’s fall so quickly recently (link to Guardian Article). The idea that Facebook could fall is a very possible possibility.
Facebook Is Too Corporate
As Facebook’s users become more aware of the security, privacy and personal implications of using the site, active users figure will tumble down. As Facebook Sales Teams become more annoying like telesales or salesmen at the door people will begin to leave. In the not too distant future when walking into a shop a machine would greet a Facebook user by name, with a recommendation of a product that a friend had bought, maybe with a special deal if they ‘liked’ the product. Think this is a bit far fetched? Read this article on Facial Recognition and combine it with people who ignore privacy. If people could keep Salesmen away from the door, or stop them ringing, they would. Just as people left Myspace for Facebook, people could quite easily leave Facebook for alternatives.
I know I hate on Facebook a lot on this blog though I have nothing against the company succeeding, I just think they make a lot of bad moves such as how to respect users and products that aren’t entirely necessary. I do however think $33billion is only justified because the company would sell again, again and again. With my opinion on ‘public’ social as it is, I won’t be raiding the piggy bank and investing in Facebook for the long term.
I think being openly social will stop being ‘cool’, though it will never disappear as the web is social by default, and there are always people who don’t care about being thrown open to the world. What I mean is being found on the web, having 3000 friends and having to keep track of every click your friends make will become so tedious, many won’t take part. Sure social activity like gaming and chat will also always exist, and these will be Facebook’s biggest purpose but most people won’t stick around for these. The details we hold on these types of sites will also be removed as people don’t want to be permanently profiled by an opinion or interest they have at the instance they are creating/updating the personal details page. Losing this user data will be a massive blow to Facebook as it is the main source of revenue.
Facebook became popular because it was the first time we all, ALL, connected and reconnected on the web. Then some of us found out it wasn’t all that brilliant or purposeful. Ever since I announced I deleted my Facebook account I have heard of lots of others who had closed down their accounts and never felt happier, I wouldn’t reopen an account with Facebook, nor would I open a public account with my real name anywhere else online. I would expect this trend will really kick in within the next 2-3 years.
Halfway through writing this post this Techcrunch article popped up in my feed. Though I am confident that these VC’s and investors will still get their $$$ out of Social, and I agree that there is still some climbing in Facebook, I stand by my opinion that it will Crash eventually.