June 23, 2008 |
When you pay $580 million for a company, it is completely normal to be upset when that company under performs. That is what is happening to Ruport Murdoch right now, as he watches recent acquisition MySpace falter under the onslaught of the Zuckerberg machine that is FaceBook.
What prompted the tantrum from the NewsCorp leader? FaceBook's 162% percent increase in market share over the course of a year. That's a substantial slice of the social networking pie. It represents about 127 million new FaceBook users during that time frame.
How is FaceBook succeeding? They do more than MySpace does, on a faster time table, and in a less annoying fashion. They appeal to a subset of the social networking market that is more than just glitter graphics and hot pants. FaceBook tends to be more streamlined and overall just less obnoxious to use.
Because of this FaceBook appeals to a wider audience than MySpace does. FaceBook and MySpace both tap into the college crowd (FaceBook got its start as a networking site for students, after all), but that is where the similarities stop. FaceBook also provides a way for people from all walks of life to find each other via location, shared interests, shared friends or colleagues and more. MySpace has its pulse on the the music end of social networking, but it falls far short on the other aspects, having never grown up with its audience (not to mention giving us Tila Tequila, something it has yet to be forgiven for).
Murdoch called FaceBook "just a directory", and he is at least partly correct. It is a much more efficient way to sort social addictions and finds online, sharing them with your friends, than people realize. I was using FaceBook as an aggregator long before FriendFeed and its messy, unattractive, hard to sort aggregation pages came around, and I still use FaceBook far more than FriendFeed. The interface is flat out better, overall.
In future, FaceBook may hit snags with its 5,000 friend limit, though that may also be a revenue stream they are overlooking. If only the top 1% of Facebook users (Scoble, Vaynerchuk and others) need more than 5,000 friends, maybe a small fee to exceed the limit wouldn't be unreasonable. Those users are businesses as well as people, after all, so why not friend count as business expense?
As long as FaceBook continues to do everything from connections to news items to applications better and more streamlined than MySpace, this "directory" will continue to grow its market share. MySpace and its annoying ugly pages and flashing ads and graphics will continue to lose ground as the internet grows up and wants a site that reflects that. FaceBook is simply riding the wave into internet adulthood.