Core-capitalist experiment, profoundly uncreative, frivolous, dangerous, a waste of time, a neuron-killer addiction. Are few of the nicknames used by its detractors, although they haven’t had any effect in neither discrediting nor minimizing the relevance of the cyber-phenomenon known as Facebook.
Its backers instead find Facebook to be fun, informative, and useful in many fronts, including family and friends reconnections, or even professional opportunities.
Businesswise, fail predictions for Facebook seem unlikely to happen as it continues to grow and consolidate as a sophisticated organization, strategizing through its continuous diversification, including the recent acquisition of an extensive set of patents on social networking.
Last summer’s purchase covers numerous social apps, ranging from friend lists to the news feed acquired from Friendster. In August of 2010, Mashable reported that the trade included 18 patents while GigaOm revealed the investment was US$40 million.
Some of the patents purchased within the portfolio include features that connect users based on their relationships with social networks, as well as others that do it based on photo tagging trends, to mention a couple. Analysts say that possessing the basic patents that comprise the foundation of social networking, indisputably positions Facebook ahead of any competitor-wannabe.
On October 6, 2010, Mark Zuckerberg wrote in The Facebook Blog:
“Today we’re announcing a completely overhauled, brand new version of Groups. (…) The net effect is your whole experience is organized around spaces of the people you care most about.
“I’m also excited to share a couple of other new things. (…) First, we’ve built an easy way to quickly download to your computer everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook and all your correspondences with friends: your messages, Wall posts, photos, status updates and profile information.
“Second, we’re launching a new dashboard to give you visibility into how applications use your data (…) We’ve heard loud and clear that you want more control over what you share on Facebook (…) We hope these tools bring you more confidence as you share things on Facebook, and that your experience grows richer and more real as a result.”
Despite technical flaws and privacy complaints, these multiple ‘easy’ and innovative ways to connect with other people have had an evident impact in the increase of users; and counting.
According to a new e-Marketer report, in 2011 Facebook will reach an average of 132.5 million* users in the United States, more than half the number of domestic web surfers, and almost five times of Twitter’s subscribers.
The e-Marketer study is based on survey data and statistics from more than a dozen sources, including U.S. users who access their Facebook account at least once per month. These estimates also predict that this year, we’ll see a 13.4 percent increase in a monthly basis and that nearly nine in 10 social media users will be ‘Facebookers’; reaching 57.1 percent of all domestic internet surfers.
It also calculates that by 2013, 62 percent of web users and about half of the overall US population (47.6%) will have a Facebook profile or page. It is expected that this rate of growth will decelerate after the predicted ‘peak’, within other reasons due to domestic market saturation; opposed to foreign markets where the expansion is imminent.
But this nonstop growth which has become the subject matter of a film production that received several nominations to the Academy Awards and three awards, has also been acknowledged by the White House.
On February 17, President Barack Obama held a dinner with technology gurus in San Francisco, where undeniably, Zuckerberg was the ‘star’. America’s wealthiest cyberspace entrepreneurs were present, and among them Apple chief Steve Jobs, who is known to be ill with pancreatic cancer.
The press was not allowed to the technology summit but a White House photo was released thereafter.
As an ironic depiction of the internet’s evolution, Mr. Jobs is on the left of the President -perhaps representing the industry’s amazing ground-breaking past- and Mark Zuckerberg on his right; undoubtedly, symbolizing innovation, opportunity, hope.
Like any other revolutionary event in history, moving on toward vertiginous change as the one triggered by the advance in technology and its direct impact into the lives of massive users, can awake skepticism and even some sort of fear. In any case, outweighing the benefit versus the risk is just reasonable.
So, for all of those who find Facebook to be a threat to many areas of our daily lives, or for others who simply dislike the ‘Poke’ feature, the Pillow-fight request, the “remember me from Kindergarten?” inquiry and/or L-O-L displays; the good news is there will always be other sites which can be used as an alternative; the bad news is -based in current projections- Facebook will continue to be profitable and the leader in social networking for awhile.
If you are in the group of Facebook lovers, or at least within those who see some advantage in having an active account; stay tuned, there is more to come.
**** According to Facebook data, this social network has reached above 500 million active global users since its creation in 2005. It estimates that during 2011 the number of domestic users will reach 132.5 million. The recent study didn’t calculate the potential increase in foreign existent markets or the potential expansion to new ones.\
© 2011 Aurelia Fierros — All Rights Reserved.