‘It’s people! Facebook, is made out of people!’
Nice article by Farhad Manjoo at Slate identifying, on a high level, Facebook’s unique challenge:
Even though Facebook is named after a real-world object, the site has no analogue in the offline world—before social networks, the idea of a worldwide map of people and their relationships didn’t exist. Indeed, you don’t have to think back too far—probably to 2005 or so—to get to a point where it would have been insane to suggest that people of all ages in every country would voluntarily disclose everything about their lives to a single website. And, on top of that, that the company behind the site would make a grand profit by using this information as a way to serve up ads. And, finally, that we’d all have fun doing it.
Facebook is far from the first public company to profit mostly from humans going to a website en masse, using its tools, and looking at its ads. But its purpose is pretty unique, and who really knows if people are going to want to use it forever?
In 15 years, these questions will either seem really ridiculous — as those dismissing the web or email as a fad 15 years ago did — or really obvious: Of course Facebook would fade, duh. I think mobile is a specific area where a Facebook replacement could grow from — I’m particularly uninspired by what Facebook is bringing to my phone. But for now, Facebook seems to be in good shape.