Facebook: ‘The Blob’ of the Internet

December 12, 2012 12:49 pm

As anybody who has watched The Social Network will know, Facebook originally started as a website for students at the prestigious Harvard University in America. Launched in 2004, it offered some similar services to what it does now: adding friends, creating profiles and sharing status’ are all core functions, but in the last few years Facebook has transformed into an all consuming social network which is aiming to establish itself as, not only the top social networking site, but as the top website used at all for anything. Few people would be shocked if they added a FBay or even FTube in the future. How has it attempted this? Why, by copying other popular websites, of course! Let us see whether this has worked and whether Facebook has become The Blob of the internet, absorbing other websites and growing fatter as a result.

Facebook vs. Twitter

In late 2011, Facebook users got the ability to ‘Subscribe’ to other users in the same way that one would follow someone on Twitter. The subscriber received all public updates from the subscribed account but nothing else, and it isn’t a two-way system like friends. This is a blatant ‘pastiche’ which aims to perform the same function as Twitter followers.

According to emarketer.com, Facebook has failed to consume Twitter by adding this feature. Between 2011 and 2012 they leaped from a decent $150m in ad revenue to an astounding $250m and have enjoyed a 456% worldwide growth since 2010. Sorry Facebook, but the little blue bird isn’t going down without a fight.

Facebook vs Skype

Again in 2011, Facebook added the function to video call, interestingly enough being powered by Skype itself as they are “technology partners”. This isn’t precisely linked to Skype however because video calling has been around on IM services for many years (who remembers the good old MSN days?). Nevertheless, one might assume that this feature would excel on Facebook as your friends are already there. It saves the hassle of having to add and create new contacts on the Skype client itself.twitter

According to Skype, the average users for 2011 were 30 million. Now, Skype says it has grown to 32 million average users in 2012, though the figures and the unbiased nature of the website are to be scrutinised.  Whether or not this includes or excludes online users on Facebook couldn’t be found either, but it is obvious that video calling in Facebook chat hasn’t subtracted from those using the client itself. Speaking of Facebook chat…

Facebook vs Instant Messengers

Ah, the good old days of MSN. Logging in after school, still in my uniform and chatting to my friends all night. The crazy email addresses, the various Kind Of Ways Of Speaking In Title Caps And Even In ‘x~T3XT~x’ Talk. Alas, those days are no more. As a year group, we all got bored of MSN (and other IMs), moving on to redder Bebo pastures. Facebook integrated Facebook Chat into the messaging system in 2008, sparking to life a new way to instant message – sadly without the large lady pig ROFL’ing on the screen.

MSN Messenger’s number of active users actually decreased from 2007 to 2008 (webeden.co.uk), increasing a little between then and 2009. However, Microsoft looks somewhat defeated in this respect, announcing just a month ago that it was “retiring” Windows Live Messenger. Admittedly, they have bought Skype, so Microsoft’s dabbling in the IM world still hasn’t finished. Whether this is down to Facebook is another issue entirely, but due to the probability that their 1 billion users all message others on there, which is translated into an IM in Facebook Chat if the other person is online, Facebook would appear to reign as king.

Facebook vs Online Games

Most people are bitterly acquainted with Facebook games. Who among the users haven’t received endless invitations to supply someone with virtual livestock on FarmVille? Facebook and associated companies practically invented freemium social games.

However there has been a long standing tradition of playing online games in the browser, usually running on Java. If you type in ‘free online games’ into Google a plethora of websites will rain upon you, some bad, some average and some absolutely amazing. Of course, Facebook hasn’t missed out on those either, especially those in the arcade genre. Games like Diamond Dash, Epic Coaster and Crazy Taxi emulate this design, most incorporating some freemium elements.like or dislike facebook is here

It’s very hard to distinguish whether Facebook has taken over this medium of gaming or not because of the wide variety of online games websites. However one of the biggest websites have lost massive ranking on the internet. Freeonlinegames.com has dropped in interest (how many people search Google for it in Search Volume Index) from 7500 in January 2007 to just 700 in January 2012. That’s a massive -91% decrease in 5 years. In contrast, according to allfacebook.com, 56 million people play Facebook games every day.

Facebook is the Blob!

Facebook is a ravenous monster, absorbing all of usages of the internet! Soon the internet will be renamed Facebook! Well, not quite. My tiny look into the statistics was brief and shallow, barely scathing the tip of an elusive iceberg. What is clear is that Facebook has integrated a lot of similar features as other websites, but there will always be others who either don’t have Facebook or have inclinations to avoid using it for the purposes listed above. If we take a dreary raining afternoon trip to the grave of MySpace, we can witness the sudden destruction of social networking sites that can happen in a short period of time. Facebook has lasted longer than the other social networking sites (8 years so far), but somebody might invent something bigger and better which slays the big blue F once and for all.







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