Editorial:The Facebook Decade

Feb 03 2014, 04:26 IST
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SummaryIt has been 10 years since Facebook arrived. Its past was meteoric, but its future will be much less so

This February, Facebook turns 10 years old. In other words, it's been a decade since social networking arrived in earnest and transformed communications the world over. People simultaneously share what they ate for breakfast, links to serious political and human rights issues around the world, and everything in between. All of this data-sharing seems commonplace now, but it was not too long ago when sociologists criticised Facebook for trivialising our thoughts and feelings. Social networking was apparently making people shallow. Whether that argument still holds is up for debate, but the fact is that Facebook, and the way users engage with it, has evolved over the last decade. From a strategic point of view, Facebook seems to now be taking a leaf from Google's book—here internal innovation slows, acquire the ideas you need! So, while Google bought companies like YouTube and Picasa, vastly increasing its user base, Facebook did the same with Instagram. Recently, it offered a whopping $3 billion for the hugely popular photo-sharing app Snapchat, but was rejected. Revenue-wise, Facebook has seen a major change taking place—namely, the shift to mobile. Whereas at first it failed to capitalise on the shift, a major reason why its IPO in 2012 failed, the social networking site seems to have now addressed that inadequacy, with a large portion of its revenue coming from mobile advertising.

The path ahead for Facebook looks quite optimistic, but the company must be careful to ensure that the source of its success doesn't become the cause of its downfall. With a user base that grew from 1 million users at the end of 2004 to 1.1 billion users as of March 2013, it was the fact that most people were on Facebook that drove everybody else to join. But teenagers are now abandoning the website their parents have come to so enthusiastically haunt! Facebook's biggest challenge will be to become cool again.

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