UPDATE: Diaspora has added itself shortly after this post to the heap of failed “Facebook Killers.” Guess I’m more right.
Back when Google+ launched I could see that it was most likely going to be successful and it began me talking about how with 3 power players, G+, Facebook and Twitter, it took a lot of “air out of the room” for other new social media platforms to rise up. I discussed that it might be impending doom for startups calling themselves the next “Facebook Killer.” Right now App.net is claiming it will be the next innovation and future power player. I really wonder.
Looking at history people seemed to have formed this idea that social media networks have a set shelf life and we just need to watch for the next innovative upstart. I dont think this is true anymore in this enviroment. In looking at AOL and MySpace both companies started to fail when they were bought out and lost in huge corporations that bogged them down and had little understanding of their operations. They were ahead of their time and I think Social Media has grown up more in its integration in to our society. Mobile has helped make it a “norm.” When you look in the past each company that dominated the had little or no strong competition. But once they quit innovating or fumbled, new companies easily rose up and out advanced them.
Today, we have something different with 3 major platforms: Facebook, Google+ and Twitter all heavyweights fighting for users. They have cash, users, innovation and are multinational like never before. When I said that I think Google+ will take more air out of the room, making it harder for new companies to come up, players like Status.net, Diaspora, Anybeat, Heello, Chime.in, Unthink, were all being seen as the next “Facebook killer.” After a year or so they have failed and even new powerhouses with cash like Microsofts So.cl cant even find air to breathe.
The other factor is a mobile and an apps economy that has integrated services into every facet of our lives they are positioned to survive and dominate for a very long time. Even Apple has integrated Twitter and Facebook into its OS as has Google+ in Android.
You have to also look at how the “Big 3″ operate. While past companies have gotten lost in middle management bog downs, the Big 3 seem to have avoided those pitfalls. Mark Zuckerberg still owns control of his corporation. Google has let its G+ team operate and innovate. The 3 companies in competition are constantly pushing each other to new levels of innovation like never before. All they have to do is copy one another and try to get ahead. Its great for the consumer, but how does a new startup catch up and compete? Given this environment its gotta be pretty hard and getting harder.
One other element is social media user burnout. Users dont want to have to work multiple networks and Facebook has gotten really good at being the place for your family and close friends. They’ve positioned to be the “journal of your life.” Yes people complained about Facebooks mistakes with privacy, selling information and ads, but failed competitors have shown people love the free sell your soul model over having to pay outright dollars for a network. People have a history of complaining, whether they actually do anything about it is another matter. In the end people go with whats comfortable and popular.
You have to remember that social media and mobile are only adopted by about 20-25% of the population. Its projected to goto 35%+ in 2 years. Theres still plenty more users to join the social media revolution. The more the Big 3 get, the harder it will be to usurp them. Social media isnt the wild west anymore. Its very well organized and I dont see a “Facebook Killer” coming anytime soon. Most of these companies take years to develop and come into popularity, but most came up with little real competition compared to now. If you really look at all the failures of new companies over the last year, the term “Facebook Killer” just means your next up on the junk pile. Maybe its time we quit using that term?