Nice to see you guys finally getting it, Twitter is fast on its way to being irrelevant. They are going to wish they took that half bill offer down the line when Facebook fully replaces everything they offer. In fact Facebook already fully does everything twitter provides. All this other talk of the cyclic nature of social networks is missing the important distinction that makes Facebook a bookend compared to everything else. Namely , Facebook did more than just try to be a destination among many, it has systematically outflanked and invalidated online users desires to go to those other destinations. How?
There was a time when you'd upload images to your profile at flickr, or smugmug or pbase, or countless other photo sharing sites. Now Facebook allows you to do that, and allows you to easily share those images with specific individuals or no one ...and I who wants to bet money a "print this image" option is not far away (once they push up the file size limit for the uploaded images)...
There was a time when you'd write posts on what you were thinking about in your blog, you had trackbacks and followers on those networks at typepad, blogger and the other blog platforms. Then Facebook comes alone with their Notes , which suck in all your blog posts going back to origin and put a Facebook face on them, adding in tagging and commenting and re-sharing of your posts. Things you can't really do on the disconnected blog platforms. I have a blogger account that I use only to write posts so that they get sucked into Facebook where I get the real attention for the article.
There was a time when you'd do most of your messaging using email, now with Facebook messaging people send links and messages using that system , pushing out to email via the notification feature. Throw in the uniqueness of the multi user messaging and Facebook does something no other social network is doing in messaging.
Forums, in the early 2000's ...creating forum "platforms" was all the rage, they were made for all manner of technology , php , python , java , c# ...to enable the establishment of message boards for sites...now Facebook comes along with groups and their associated discussion boards and so much for Forums. Why communicate on a bunch of separate fora with different user id's and passwords , when one can simply join Facebook groups and participate in their discussion boards...with anyone on the network. Discussing , sharing , getting to know people from all areas of the world that find the group topics interesting. All managed by your one Facebook profile..another key online activity subsumed into the Facebook social behemoth.
There was a time when you went into Yahoo messenger to chat with your friends, now your social network is immediately available for chat (when they chose) using Facebook's chat. Sure it is basic to all hell , and limits your chat rate (it actually tells you to "slow down" if you "talk" too much) but it provides an integrated real time collaboration with your contacts that none of the other social networks were able to integrate nearly as smoothly. MySpace chat was a joke, and many of the other so called big boys don't even have chat integrated into the profiles. Again , Facebook is taking the things people do online and pulling them all to itself ....no social network has ever done this and by doing it, Facebook makes itself indispensable in the eyes of its users a place to live online and do everything.
There was a time when you went to one of several "favorite" games sites to play games, now many of those sites games are being converted to Facebook apps and played collaboratively on people's walls. Why settle for competition with your few friends that know about "game site x" when you can start playing a game on FB and publish your results to your feed for all your gamer contacts to see and add themselves. Gaming now is absorbed into the Facebook ecosystem...taking with it a key online activity that would often pull people across different sites.
The proof of all this consolidation is clear in the numbers, users spend incredible amounts of time on the Facebook network...doing all these things they formerly did on different sites. Now, think...with such a huge investment made in having all ones interaction, content and community in one site...what on Earth can get them to switch en mass ?
nothing. Barring a catastrophe on Facebook's end...they will be the last of the social networks and if they avoid Google's response (their only real competition in that they are the only ones with a suite of products that can be woven together to provide a similar experience fast enough and have a user base broad enough to maybe slow their growth)
Talk of key users moving on to new networks once bored , irrelevant. They'll soon find them self constantly coming back to Facebook. The only areas that Facebook will find difficult to penetrate are businesses as they have competitive advantage locked up in the mix of products they use to collaborate that they will not give up for the homogeneity (read: flattened playing field) of Facebook...that and it lacks the security and privacy that businesses want.
The Oracle has spoken, now go relax and have a Corona folks. ;)