by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 8th 2008 7:55pm
Extrapolation of what's happening "now" is one of the most dangerous things in trying to predict the future. If something is growing quickly today, it doesn't mean that will last. Take social networks for example. Historically, they have a pretty standard pattern. There's a huge rush of growth, as people think it's new and neat, and they sign up all their friends. Then there's a flat period where people are still using it, but some begin to question why. Then people start to realize that, beyond reconnecting with some old friends and acquaintances, there really isn't that much to do there -- and that realization may come even sooner if they're getting bombarded with advertisements. It happened way back in the '90s with Six Degrees. It happened with Friendster in the first half of the decade. Yet, some people and companies believed that MySpace and Facebook would be different. Certainly, both companies recognized this problem to some extent, and have worked to add more things that you can "do" on their sites. Both still get a ton of traffic and usage and aren't going anywhere soon. However, there are some worrying signs. Google recently noted that the ads it's put on MySpace don't perform very well (which is something of a problem, since Google has guaranteed at least $900 million in ad revenue to MySpace). And, now, reports are coming out that users are, on average, spending noticeably less time on both MySpace and Facebook, with some leaving it behind. And, what better way to amusingly drive that point home, than to point out that even Bill Gates has killed his Facebook page just a few months after Microsoft dumped $240 million into the company?
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