Thursday, 10 February 2011

Facebook's Ultimate Vision

Facebook just hit its seven year milestone. That's seven years since the creation of the social network that changed everything. No exaggeration – it really did change the world of the internet. It’s true to say that for example MySpace was around a good while before Facebook; but look at where Facebook has left these once thriving social networks. I am not saying that it’s impossible for other social networks to be successful; Twitter (my favourite social network!) for instance, is surviving just fine alongside Facebook.

Facebook is famous for its site redesigns. And these redesigns never fail to kick up a fuss – everyone’s news feeds fill up with Facebook hate messages! It’s incredible that at the young age of just seven, Facebook has undergone five official interface evolutions.

Its amazing to think that this colossal service started out in a university dorm, and has now reached almost every corner of the earth. I don’t think the inventors had planned for it to expand to this scale and this quickly. And Facebook continues growing as we speak. Just this week, they announced that they will be moving their official head office to the former headquarters of Sun Microsystems, where they will enjoy a more flexible and spacious future.

I think it’s fairly obvious to Facebook and the general public that there isn’t much more room for growth within the confines of a plain social “network”. So where will it go? To answer, I am going to expand an idea that Mark Zuckerberg alluded to a few months ago.

If Facebook managed to become the largest social network in just a few short years, just think about how far it could go! Thinking outside of the box - Facebook could become the underlying component of every form of social interaction on the planet (except for physical human interaction of course)! In other words, Facebook effectively becomes the social “layer” of the internet, feeding many other future software offerings that would have never been possible without it.

But this is not another one of my famous cases of “time will tell” – it’s happening already. Facebook is finding an answer to virtually every single social application on the internet. Facebook’s new messaging system has rolled out to many users already, providing a email equivalent (you even get an address) and we’ve recently seen the releases of products such as Facebook Places and Facebook Deals.

And the Facebook Phone has been touted for possible release this month. This might not necessarily be tied to a mobile network either. With constantly growing 3G (and related services) with global coverage; internet calls may be a more attractive option. There is even proof that Facebook may be testing their own VOIP calling system, as this “Call” button was spotted on a random user’s profile just a few weeks back:

Facebook are slowly building up their services, and it’s only a matter of time before they will pull them all together into something incredible. That’s when everything changes. Facebook connect is just the start of their ability to take new software offerings from unrelated companies and plug them straight into the social networks social “layer”. But what else can we expect from them? A Social Web Browser? This already exists with RockMelt. Maybe even a Facebook OS? That may sound pretty wild but it’s no more wild than Google Chrome OS!

Whatever happens Facebook has grown too big to simply be overtaken by another company. But there are concerns from people who want better privacy and what a company of its size does with our data when it offers a social layer to third parties. When twitter arrived Facebook wanted to change the game from being private to being more public, but this is not what we created a Facebook profile for. Facebook will need to address this area by creating a better way to split what you want your friends to see and what you want Mum and Dad or even your boss to see. There are other companies waiting in the wings to fill this need including the company Diaspora. Facebook will no doubt be watching with interest and hopefully will continue to innovate.

In my lifetime Facebook has ruled supreme but as I become a teenager and start working over the next 7 years I predict it will be a very different place indeed.

Raffi Maurer


Anonymous said...

Just read this blog for the first time. It is awesome. Are you sure you are only 12?

Craig Lewin, London said...

I think that ultimately we will view Facebook much like we now view Microsoft. We all believed they would continue to dominate but look at where Apple is today. Who would have predicted that?

Ian Thorpe, Manchester said...

An interesting IDEA here Raffi - I am enjoying your weekly blog as a short distraction from the mundane in my life.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article Raffi. On the basis of your notion of Facebook becoming "the underlying component of every form of social interaction on the planet", I wonder what advice you would give to those people who are still scared of Facebook and worry that they might be in danger if they open an account?!

Raffi Maurer said...

I think people will begin to accept Facebook, just like what happened with mobile phones, email, etc. Raffi

Anonymous said...

Social Networking is redefining how we interact and experience our lives. Art is currently imitating life but there will be a tipping point when life will imitate art and the technology will end up redefining who we are, how we interact, who is important to us, and how we approach situations where mass networking is a factor. I can only hope that as we go forward we reassert our own human sensitivities and move the technology in a new direction instead of allowing the technology to move us.

Anonymous said...

Hi Raffi, Well done! very nice indeed.
you say:
"Facebook will need to address this area by creating a better way to split what you want your friends to see and what you want Mum and Dad or even your boss to see."
but this exists today using Facebook lists (or whatever they call it) but no one is using it. You know why? because we are all lazy and can't be bothered. So they will just have to find a better way.
Next time I want to see more innovative ideas coming from you and not only an overview of what is happening. Place your bets and say what you think Social Media and Facebook will look like in 12 months. Tough job? Well you chose to be a blogger didn't you? :)

Chaim Zucker.

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