6 Mar 2009 7:26 am   //   Filed under: Failure, Technology

Friendster 2.0

Facebook is a huge property right now, beloved by millions, worth a fortune, fending off all sorts of acquisition offers, and winning the respect of businesses everywhere. To anyone who buys this hype, I have one word:

Friendster.

The year was 2003. A handful of us hopped onto Friendster and “Friended” each other. We posted our favorite books and movies. We sent each other messages. We self-identified as “Single,” “In a Relationship” or “It’s Complicated.” We posted flattering “Testimonials” of one another. I even used Friendster to find a few dates.

Those were good times. Us and Friendster had a lot of fun. Then, one day quite suddenly, we all got sick of it and moved on. Friendster didn’t. It’s still up there. This morning I logged on and was mortified to see Friendster is still serving up pictures of me and my friends from five or six years ago:

Visiting Friendster is like looking at your high school yearbook. One day, Facebook will be the same way.

But wait, you say. Facebook is way better than Friendster! It has better technology and is a more satisfying social experience.

True. But something will come along that’s better than Facebook. Or, more likely, our computing habits will change in some way we can’t yet predict that will render Facebook less important. We know from watching the Internet develop that nothing stays big forever. When everything is free, users can afford to be fickle.

The only real value of Facebook (and, as part of this same conversation, Twitter) is that lots of people use it, and you can sell advertising to those people. (Even that’s an arguable point – see my post on impressions and revenue).

We the customers should enjoy Facebook and get the most out of it we possibly can. (I use it every day.) But we’re not spending any money on Facebook, or because of Facebook, and that’s a little scary. When the people get bored with Facebook, and we probably will, the company will become as worthless as Friendster. And nobody will miss it.