Why Facebook is the New Yahoo →

Mike Elgan, with a headline assertive enough to avoid Betteridge:

All this copying of Google+ and integration with third-party services smacks of desperation and lack of vision. All these scattershot changes erode Facebook’s identity, and make the service even more complex and confusing.

Facebook appears to be very worried about its own decline. And it should be. While Facebook is still gaining members, a careful look at its growth reveals that the leading countries — the ones that were first to jump on the Facebook bandwagon — are actually abandoning Facebook.

The two comments on this article right now are “this is spot on” and “this is completely wrong-headed,” both of which which Elgan’s writing often invokes, although it’s a neat trick to get them simultaneously. While I don’t know if it’s “spot on,” Facebook is—like Yahoo—curiously vision-free. They’ve produced some neat technologies (and to their credit, often open-sourced them), but their business model seems to basically be, “Let’s keep users on Facebook as much as possible.” The Yahoo comparison makes sense the way Elgan constructs it, but I think it’s more apt to say that Facebook’s goal has been to be the new AOL. “Walled garden” is a phrase that gets batted about a lot with regard to the Big Fruit, but Apple rarely builds services that you’re forced to use in lieu of interoperable standards. Facebook has little interest in building anything but.

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