Why Facebook is not the future of the web

by Matt Frye

There's a lot of speculation at any given time about what the future of the web is. I don't know what it is, but I think I know what it's not. Facebook.

Yeah, yeah, I can hearing the booing from here. Easy now, fan boys.

The truth is that the web rides waves of innovation and everyone on of those waves has a trough between it and the next wave. Facebook is currently experiencing the slide down the backside of the wave and is headed into the trough. Why?

10 Comments

BackSeat
2007-12-10 04:38:19
6) Facebook has the UI from Hell. Maybe it is somehow intuitive if you are aged under 20, but I found it hard to make head or tail of it.
Reedo
2007-12-10 05:50:10
All of your reasons but 5 make sense to me. "Useless crap" is very much subjective. One of the purposes of the Web is entertainment--something that's "just for fun" is not necessarily "useless". Most of the items on Facebook aren't appealing to me, but from what I can see, that isn't true about many, many other people.
Sam Hocevar
2007-12-10 12:26:04
None of your reasons but 5 make sense to me. How can you use "Growth like that can’t last forever" as an argument, and in the same sentence claim that maintaining or handling the growth require huge investments? How can you use "Facebook is not for sale" as an argument while quoting Zuckerberg’s "We’re not looking to IPO anytime *soon*"? Surely there is no reason why Facebook will not be for sale at some time. Facebook does not respect users, so what? Web 2.0 is all about cheap labour and users not caring about giving away their whole life. Facebook is getting sued, so what? Google, Youtube, all the big players get sued.


But you are right, Facebook is full of useless crap. That’s the conclusion I also drew from my deep analysis of the subject.

Tiffany
2007-12-11 00:44:33
Try this........
rob
2007-12-11 17:25:22
didnt they raise an extra 250 million from microsoft?
Matt Thazhmon
2007-12-11 21:22:35
I think that the future of the web is facebook style interactions across any website. The first step is to get away from having to manually rebuild your social network at every site you go to. That's what we at freemyfriends.com are trying to enable. What do you think?
andy mulholland
2007-12-12 03:14:39
Brave blog !! I would further emphaise the point that Facebook is too self contained, or maybe even too self centred if i take your point on not respecting users. my view is that not joining Open Social is a huge mistake as the whole purpose of social networks is to socialise and not be closed off.


right now Facebook is a big experimental zone, and for me the fun add-ons like blog friend etc are what makes me be there and attempting new things with 'friends' but that won't last. something more substantial has to follow as the novelty alone won't be sustainable


whats next ? take a look at www.widsets.com and see what you can do with a smartphone these days by adding widgets.

john
2007-12-12 04:31:36
1) The cost for "infrastructure" are not greater than that of any other large site (Flickr, Myspace, fucking Google -- whatever). And "growth can't last forever" is not an argument. You have no idea how much Facebook will grow, nor does anyone else. They're growing a lot now, that's all anyone can say with confidence. You're using what should be a conclusion ("Facebook won't keep growing") as the premise of your argument. It's pretty idiotic.


2) So a company has to be for sale to be profitable? Don't you think Facebook has any potential to make money, that the only way any company "makes money" is by getting it from investors? I don't even know where to start on this one, but ignoring the fact that don't seem to have any idea of what "making a profit" actually means (hint: it's not the same as doing an IPO), Facebook has demographic data like no other company in the world. The possibility to capitalize on advertising to its users is utterly obvious and the reason for the high valuation in the first place. BESIDES, they have enough cash to burn (far more than $100mil, which is more than similar sites are sold for in the first place) to last them several years.


3) This is indeed a problem, and your only valid point. One should remember, though, that most people just don't care. Of my non-techie friends, no one knows what Beacon is and couldn't care less.


4) ConnectU have been at them with their lawyers from day one, and yet this hasn't prevented Facebook from getting a $15 billion dollar valuation. This argument is utterly ridiculous.


5) Well, I'm not all that much for zombie games either, but the user stats speak for themselves. Besides, you don't have to use all those apps. It's up to you.


All in all, this is one of the most poorly argued "articles" I've read on the intarwebs in a long while. That's saying something.

M. David Peterson
2007-12-12 14:48:49
@rob,


>> didnt they raise an extra 250 million from microsoft?


Yes, they did.


@Matt Frye,


Did you not know about this already (the 250 million from MSFT), or did you purposely leave it out due to some reason that isn't quite obvious at the moment.

Matt Frye
2007-12-12 15:57:57
@M. David Peterson - I left it out because I don't feel it's relevant to Facebook's future. It's just operating cash at this point, not a real investment in their future, or the future of the web...and I don't believe that the fact that the money comes from Microsoft makes an ounce of difference. Microsoft's stake in Facebook doesn't tell me anything more than they want to ride this particular wave. If Microsoft really believed that Facebook is the future of the web, why didn't they invest more? Why are they taking a wait and see attitude?


If Facebook were the future of the web, there would be many, many more sites emulating their functionality. The only site to make any kind of announcement about doing something vaguely Facebook-esque is Bebo, and that wasn't until today (12/12/07).


On the other hand, if Facebook *is* the future of the web, then I expect we'll see quite a bit more companies coming out with (and announcing the fact of) their own Facebook applications. And I'm talking about really useful apps, not Microsoft Poke or the like. It'll happen soon and it will happen very quickly. The Facebook API isn't rocket science.


Facebook has a real opportunity to create new connective technology. Why not leverage SMS like Twitter? Why not get involved with OpenSocial? These and many more are the relevant questions and I hope someone upstairs at Facebook is thinking about them...how to really connect people...how to be the future.