TECH TALK: Facebook: Looking Ahead

Fred Stutzman writes:

Facebook seeks to become a starting point for its users web experience. In essence, it is solving the “what’s next” problem by providing users a potentially endless set of experiences to encounter within the Facebook framework. Facebook knows that it has limited resources, by ceding some control of its space to third-parties, it retains users while enabling them to spend more time exploring the endless depths of the Facebook experience. In a sense, this is Second Life applied to Facebook; Second Life is only as interesting as the environments developed within – Facebook is no different.

Sounds like a great plan, right? I agree, it does sound good on paper. But how it shakes out in the real world is still left to be known. Facebook users engage with the service to have social needs answered; while Platform adds a bunch of new capability to the service, does it actually answer social needs? I think you could argue that the diversification of information presented on a profile is a relevant social need, but what about an Amazon marketplace? Is that a relevant social need? The ultimate question revolves around how these applications enable mutual disclosure between friends – how they help friends learn more about each other. That’s been the killer app of Facebook since day one, and just because the audience has changed somewhat I don’t believe it is no longer relevant.

Read/Write Web thinks Facebook will go in for what could be the biggest IPO since Google:

We may never know the full story on why Yahoo and Facebook couldn’t agree terms on a $1Billion deal. But you have to commend Facebook for its brave move of going it alone and building out a development platform themselves. It would’ve been much easier to go the MySpace route and sell themselves to the highest Bigco bidder.

Could we eventually see the biggest IPO since Google, when Facebook puts its hand out to the public for cash? It’s looking like a good bet now. And as Facebook’s current stats show, they are growing at a remarkable pace. They have the vision, the user base, and 3rd party developer support. It seems the monetization isn’t quite worked out yet, which could still end up spoiling the party. But one thing is for sure, Facebook has gone well beyond what MySpace has to offer – and is looking distinctly threatening to not only MySpace, but the other big Internet companies. Facebook has grown up!

While Facebook is not officially in India, its user base is starting to grow. While Google’s Orkut remains the dominant player in the social networking space in India, Indian start-ups like Minglebox (which received funding from Sequoia) and established players like MySpace are also likely to be forces to contend with. My belief continues to be that in India social networking will need to take a mobile-centric rather than a PC-centric approach. So, from that perspective, the space still remains wide open.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.