Online empires fall. Will Facebook?


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It’s hard to imagine the world without Facebook right now. Even people who aren’t users are affected by it even if only because they are constantly bombarded with commercials, billboards, and other people telling them to follow this and like that. The site has become the center piece of a company that is expanding beyond the boundaries of social media and influencing the real world.

Is it possible that Facebook can fall in the next few years?

Yes, Facebook is doomed

The brief history of the internet has brought us many companies that were too big to fail. They held the collective attentions of the masses in ways that made them necessary. America Online was arguably the first internet superpower. One couldn’t exit a supermarket without seeing their disks on display offering 1099 minutes of free online service. Today, they are more of a media company than anything else with no real presence as an internet service provider and a focus on publications they acquired like HuffPo and Techcrunch.

Most attribute their famous fall to broadband. They found it too difficult to adjust and were unwilling to believe that dial-up would die. When it did, so too did the mighty ISP.

MySpace is an example that hits closer to home for Facebook. As its predecessor, MySpace rose to power in 2004 when Facebook was just getting started. They boasted 250 million users in 2007 and didn’t get much bigger than that.

Their failure is not as easy to trace as AOL’s. Some blame their archaic platform that didn’t get a revamp until it was too late. Others say they had an image problem, that once kids graduated from high school or college it simply didn’t fit their needs the way Facebook did. Still others say that their switch to become an entertainment hub was a bad move while others say it didn’t happen soon enough. Regardless of why, the results were disastrous for News Corp.

History repeats itself. If that trend continues, Facebook is doomed.

No, Facebook is different

If there’s one thing that’s difficult about being a trendsetter, it’s that blazing trails means not knowing from history what might be in store. Facebook has the benefit of seeing others rise and fall and has the opportunity to not repeat the same mistakes.

Moreover, the previous empires were tiny compared to Facebook. It is on pace to hit 1 billion users by early 2013, well more than any of the “competitors” (who are all claiming to not be direct competitors). Even the mighty Google is struggling to make its Google+ network a viable alternative to Facebook by garnering only 3 minutes time-on-site per user per month compared to 405 minutes for Facebook.

They are about to get a ton of cash when the Facebook IPO comes. That’s something that none of the failed empires were able to really make work. How they use the money will dramatically influence their future, but if they buy other companies such as Instagram with the money, many will start questioning whether they’re growing up too fast (while others will say that anything they buy is a good move).

Either way…

It doesn’t matter which side of the argument you’re on. Unless Facebook truly becomes a full-fledged company with interests in other areas they will eventually fall. It could be 5 years. It could be 50. Despite common belief, the internet is only a stepping stone. There will come a time when people look at the internet the same way we currently look at the telegraph.

It’s just a matter of time. Should Google be worried, too?

The graphic below documents some of the once-mighty empires of the online world.

The Rise and Fall of Online Empires
From: Used Cars Yonkers Via:

  1. Where does Google fit on this chart??

    Sure its possible Facebook could fade from popularity.  It probably will eventually.  Look at the telegraph.  That had a good long run, but is now no more.  The data here though really has no relevance.

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