While other Harvard students were still busy acclimating to the first few weeks back after winter break, sophomore Mark Zuckerberg was stowed away in his dorm room launching what would become the largest network of human connection we've ever seen: The Facebook. (Later renamed simply Facebook.)
Initially created as a measure for keeping Harvard students connected – and later other Ivy League schools – several years and lawsuits later, Facebook was open to everyone from your college roommate to your grandmother's book club.
Next Tuesday marks Facebook's 10th birthday, and with the newly announced Paper app stealing headlines, it seems the social pioneer is poised for an eventful tenth year. However, like any other healthy skeptic, I can't help but wonder what Facebook will look like in another 10 years.
Will it even be relevant? Will it be a punchline in much the same way MySpace was? Will our beloved Zuck still be acting CEO? Or will he find a home in reality TV hell somewhere with a show aptly titled "The Zuck Stops Here"?
Will he still by trying to acquire Snapchat?
While none of us can be sure, we can sure have a lot of fun guessing.
The Mighty Fall
In 2006, based on a study published by Compete, MySpace was the top website based on total time spent in minutes. Yup. Ahead of Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Facebook.
And it wasn't even close.
Fast forward eight years, and MySpace is now a network centered around music sharing and discovery and nowhere close to being the most visited website on the web, let alone the default option for social networking.
Largely due to Facebook's domination of the social market, MySpace was forced to adapt, albeit after several years of being a witty punch line to late Gen Y'ers. And while Facebook has something MySpace never really had – boat loads of capital – it's also seeing declining attention spans due to the increasing wealth of distractions being supplied elsewhere.
Is Snapchat, Pinterest, and Google+ posing a significant threat to Facebook right now? Probably not. But the writing is on the wall: users are more than willing to spend more time elsewhere if the platform and experience better aligns with their behavior.
If history does indeed repeat itself, Facebook will not resemble what we've come to know it as in another ten years.
After all, ten years ago MySpace was (by far) the most preferred social networking website on the web. Microsoft was more profitable than Apple, and people had to actually get off their couches to rent a video. Innovation doesn't yield to anyone, even the most powerful of entities.
So...what will Facebook look like in another ten years?
(CC Image courtesy of Will Clayton on Flickr)
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