Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why Facebook will become the center of the Cyber Universe

What Zuckerberg intended when he established Facebook was totally different from what he intends to do now. At that time Google's Orkut was the social networking provider leader and social network sites used to go in and out of style like fads. (Remember Hi5, Yahoo 360??). Zuckerberg just saw an unsaturated market and decided to play his hand and earn a quick buck. He never knew that Facebook would actually become so big and spawn such a big industry and his site would actually become on of the hottest things in cyberspace.

So Zuckerberg became a multi-billionaire overnight and Facebook beat other sites so bad that it now has a monopoly in the social networking space. The design of the site has undergone many changes since the 1st avatar. So many and so fast that the users actually became frustrated by unlearning and re-learning their profiles and the website.

Facebook also has a slew of security issues with security breaches occuring often and people's accounts getting hacked into. Apart from that, Facebook also has a problem with its apps. Due to a lesser degree of control there are a lot of fake apps and phishing apps which use your account to send messages etc.

But apart from its problems, why Facebook has succeeded is because it gives the user a great amount of control over what he/she can do on the site. Also the whole concept of apps has made this the ultimate place for passing time. So much so that companies like MindJolt.Com, Zynga etc have ballooned up. These companies make apps and other games which run over Facebook. Zynga has taken the world by a storm with its FarmVille and CityVille games. They allow interaction with yout friends and peers and provide quite an experience. Many of my friends are addicted to it. My brother too has become an addict which is saying something about the game as he normally never plays games, yes not even the ones we can install like Call of Duty!

It has also spawned many groups and places of interaction, for example there are groups which hole photography contests online, spiritual groups which interact over Facebook, companies now have a good place to set up their online presence by setting up pages. These pages now form a more personal bond with their consumers, right from the most loyal to the ones who hate the brands.

Facebook has given the users a user-friendly environment and lots of tools to share and interact. Users can put up photos, videos, notes/blogs, even their calendar or links from other sites from across the web and choose to or not to share or share only privately.

Another revolution that Facebook brought about was the "like" button. So a person can see what his friends like and comment on that or discover something he/she likes too. It just made sharing things easy. The old styled "Groups" were now dissolved unless its a private moderated one! and made into pages, which one can join just by liking it and discuss that particular topic/interest/brand/thing or whatever it is with known as well as unknown people.

It also provided an easy to see "newsfeed". All your friends' recent activities came up on the newsfeed and you can see what everyone has been up to and join in the fun if you want. With notifications, easy sharing, user friendly site and lots of places to interact, Facebook became the ideal site to spend your time. Thus its users started to spend most of their free time on Facebook and the rest was history.

But all this doesn't yet answer the question of why Facebook will become the centre of the Cyber-Universe. Well its all pretty simple. From the way things are moving the world is getting smaller and smaller and people are connecting more using social networking sites, sharing everything over the net with their friends and family. And everyday hundreds of people join Facebook. As the world connects to the web more and more people will join Facebook just because their family and friends are on it and Facebook will grow more.

It already has a chatting feature and recently converted its messaging system into an email system, which is quite cool really (but nowhere near a real email provider). SO I can now surf Facebook to get the news through pages of news publishers which i "like" (follow/subscribe) check out what my friends are up to, stream tv through Facebook (many people at the hostel streamed the world cup matches live through Facebook), and chat with friends, check out companies and products, read stories etc just on Facebook.

Along with this comes shopping!... Shopping on Facebook?!? ... YES! I kid you not!.. Facebook has shopping on its site. For example you can pay and watch The Dark Knight || LINK || through Facebook! Pampers was one of the first to open up shop on Facebook with Amazon.Com's help. Since then more and more shops have opened up and the concept is getting popular. This has amazing real life applications and can be used very innovatively to increase business. It can be so well harnessed that consumers wouldn't want to go to any other e-retail site than Facebook, but that’s a whole new blog post, which incidentally you can read here || LINK ||

Along with the shops, Facebook has started something called questions, which allows people to ask each other questions. Now this tool can be used very effectively by companies to conduct surveys. The problem is that it does not allow for specific targeting but I'm sure that with a few tweaks that can also be enabled.

So now we have a Facebook which does so much, but soft, with the latest Microsoft purchase of Skype once can be sure that Facebook will get ready access to that [Microsoft is an investor in Facebook] and son we'll see video chat enabled through Facebook much as Gmail has it in its inbox. But a lot depends on the quality of Skype now that Microsoft has it.

Facebook integration is also something which is important to note. There are phone concepts which are working at Facebook integration and will be called Facebook phones. All new models which use GPRS or Mobile internet have apps which allow easy access to Facebook. Facebook itself has started free access to its mobile website "0.facebook.com" through multiple carriers and thereby increasing accessibility manifold. A browser called Rockmelt has launched, based on the Chromium platform, has deep Facebook integration. The user has to log on to even launch the browser, and ready-made feeds for Facebook news, notifications as well as twitter. Rockmelt will be a different blog post but I must say it was the 1st browser in the past decade that made me shift from Firefox.

So now we have a Facebook which is a whole lot more than just social networking. It effectively integrates peoples’ lives and lifestyles with each others. Its user-friendly "sharing" options is what has made this site grow so much. As Zuckerberg realizes the application of such a site, it will grow even more and integrate more and more of peoples' lives. There might even come a time when people search the web using "Facebook Search" right from inside the website.

So one possibility of the future, if Zuckerberg plays his cards right, is that Facebook instead of Google becomes the centre and the whole of the cyber world revolves around it with deep Facebook integration. All companies will have to integrate Facebook, like Rockmelt has, and they will use Facebook to conduct surveys, to generate business, to sell online, to interact with consumers. As it is Facebook beat Google in 2010 to be the most visited site on Earth and it also has the capabilities to become exactly like Google and maybe even bigger.

-> SJ

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