Will Facebook Be Smashed By 2015?

In the social networking space, Facebook’s closing-in-on-a-billion users might appear to make it unassailable. But is that really the case? Not everyone thinks so.

Picture by Mike Licht

Telstra’s director for capability and innovation Michael Ossipoff argued the case against Facebook’s continued dominance at the Genesys G-Force conference in Melbourne this week. To quote his words:

Facebook will not be the preeminent social network by 2015. It will be smashed by fragmentation.

Ossipoff’s point was not that Facebook will suddenly disappear, or that people will stop using it altogether. It is that just as Facebook took time away from some of the other things we used to do online, and potentially took over some of the functions we used to assign to different sites (such as photo sharing), new options will emerge in the future that will change things again.

Whenever a new social networking option emerges, one of the first hurdles it has to cross is integrating with what has gone before. Google+ isn’t much use to many people if it has to be maintained separately. In the same vein, the point at which I started using Twitter more than Facebook was when I realised I could send my Twitter updates directly through to Facebook. Not all my Facebook friends thanked me for that, but it was the way I wanted to use the service. The end result is that I use both, but neither dominates.

As new competitors emerge, of course, Facebook itself changes. Earlier this week, it announced a bunch of privacy-related changes which most observers interpreted as a direct reaction to the emergence of Google+. What I couldn’t help noticing was that the reaction to this change of interface amongst my Facebook friends was muted to non-existent. There was a time when even minor changes to the Facebook interface led to massive outcries. These days, people have perhaps learned that complaining doesn’t make any difference. But they may also care just that little bit less, because Facebook simply isn’t that important anymore. If that process continues, indifference might mount a lot earlier than 2015. What do you think?

Disclosure: Angus Kidman attended G-Force as a guest of Genesys.

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