Facebook faces frustrating future
Facebook is undeniably a success. Every day, 618 million users login, being about half of the entire membership. And in the past yearit has almost doubled its income from advertising. All good news.But….In the UK alone, in January, 600,000 people closed their accounts;indeed account closure is a common everyday feature for the folksat Facebook. Of course, that’s only to be expected – the biggeryour web service, the more obvious the negatives will be. Evenso, with almost 1.5 billion users, hundreds of thousands of accountclosures is comparatively small fry.Nowadays, though, those negatives seem to be getting louder.Every day now I meet people who say they are frustrated withFacebook. This time last year I was meeting people who wereall saying how muchFacebook had helped them. Of course,this is only anecdotal impressions; it is not hard data. Facebook themselves collect hard data and they have noticed that peopleare getting increasingly frustrated. So it isn’t just my personalconnections. Inan interview with The Inquirer newspaper, JaneLeibrock, the User Experience Researcher at Facebook, said thatpeople had started to complain about being unable to focus onthings so well.Up until recently, Facebook was the place to go to chat withyour friends. Now, because Facebook needs to finance thingsmore, your friends are less visible than adverts, promoted postsand the activity of people who aren’t really your close friends.Now, it is true, of course that you can control much of this – butthat requires delving into settings and constantly managing yourFacebook page. In other words, making Facebook function the wayusers want it to has become more complex for them.That’s the second step in frustration and annoyance. First,Facebook make it more difficult to see what you really wantto see and then it makes it cumbersome for you to controlthat. Admittedly, Facebook is constantly striving to accommodatebetter ways of giving people the information they want. However,therein lies the problem for Facebook.By giving us what we want, they cannot easily “monetize” theirsite. They need to show more promoted posts and adverts in orderto reach the dizzy financial heights of Google, for instance. Butthe more Facebook does this, the more we complain and the morepeople leave.Facebook seems to be at the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” in theGartner Hype Cycle. That means before too long it will plummetto the “Trough of Disillusionment”. It means that we can expecta year or two of increasing turmoil with increasing numbers of peopleleaving and more negative noise about Facebook. But if themanagement get it right and balance what we want with what theywant you can be sure that Facebook will be a fundamental part of the Internet for many years to come.But if the management at Facebook get it wrong…? Well, thatmeans we could be into the last couple of years of this giant whichwill end up sleeping in some distant corner of the web. We areat the tipping point where everything now depends on whetherFacebook can keep enough users happy to make enough money.Related posts1.Facebook’s new Graph Search is a non-event2.Is Facebook slowly killing itself?3.Time management for social networkers
What comes next after mobile?
Today is the 40th birthday of the mobile phone; happy birthdaymobile. Thefirst mobile telephone callwas made on 3rd April1973 by Martin Cooper an employee of Motorola in New York. Inthose days, you were lucky if you got more than half an hour talk-time out of your phone’s battery. You also needed a handbag-sizedbattery pack, which you carried over your shoulder, to keep yourphone working. And if you wanted to use the phone in the car, youhad to buy a second one which was permanently wired into a boxthat fitted into your boot. You then plugged your hand-held into asocket in the front of the car and the two phones worked as one.I know – I had one…!Mobile phones have come a long way since those early days – andthe pioneers at Motorola? Well the company is now a subsidiary of Google and isnot doing as wellas it once was. Apple and Androidnow dominate and even the king of mobile, Nokia, is not what itused to be. Things have changed in the world of mobile.But how long have those changes taken? 40 years. These days weuse mobile phones for all sorts of things in addition to phone calls– social networking, buying things, storing useful information orsending emails. But each of these things have been added relativelyslowly; we have been able to send emails using mobiles since1993, for instance.Although many people now accept smartphones as a “normal” partof their daily life, our brains have had time to accept them becausethe developments have taken place relatively slowly.