Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The 9 year life of an Internet application

Ok, I'm quite over Facebook. I think their killer feature applications with feeds has actually turned into the latest form of spam. My feed is full of junk and nothing useful.

On the plus side I am connected with tons of friends and I never have to worry about losing contact. But that's about it. Status is passe, because everyone's updates are so boring. Photos is passe, because have ODed on them. Wall is still OK and good way to notify the whole gang.

For the last few months I have been using Smallworld. And now everytime I meet the slightly older, slight better off individual, they automatically ask me "are you on Smallworld". Not a word about Facebook.

Its not just the exclusivity of Smallworld that's appealing. Its the trusted opinion. If Facebook users rate a nightclub, you're never sure what its all about because the users are such a mixed bag; but if Smallworld users rate it, you can be sure that its more or less in line with your tastes. Ditto with questions and answers. Ask a question and Smallworld answers tend to be normally what you're looking for.

Is this the beginning of the end for Facebook? Could very well be. Smallworld will be the 1st community catering to high end lifestyle needs and a small but important group will split from Facebook to Smallworld. Then we might find that another community catering to under 21 with lots of gaming breaks off another chunk from Facebook. And so on.

The splitting off phenomena is known as divergence. As a product matures, new products emerge catering to a more specific group within that user base. In the old days this took decades, but in rapidly moving Internet times, the cycle is down to 9 years:

Year 1 - 3 Product emergence
Year 4 - 6 Product's best years. Emergence of new divergent competitors
Year 7 - 9 Product's decline. The rule of the divergent competitors
Year 10+ Product stays and can be kept profitable, but its difficult.

Moral of the story: Best time to launch a new product, when the competing product is doing its best. Needless to say the new product must be divergent and highly innovative.

1 comment:

Arvind Devalia said...

Hi Rehan,

Excellent article and great insights into the coming downturn of Facebook's fortunes.

Only last week a friend re-introduced me to Smallworld and it has much more of what I want than Facebook.

Thanks again and keep up the insightful writing.