Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We're on to you, Mark Zuckerberg!

Has anyone been keeping up with the Facebook media frenzy? Actually, has anyone been able to avoid any of the Facebook hype machine in the last 4-6 months? ...this is nearly analogous to how Lakers fans must feel about Kobe Bryant--it's nearly impossible to go too long without hearing something about the NBA superstar. But I digress. :o

So here's the latest in the whirlwind of activity happening within the walls of this social networking site: Facebook is taking a page out of Amazon and offering data storage to developers of Facebook applications. The news in of itself isn't too shocking; it's the most logical step in their evolution from niche social networking site to major Internet portal.

Internet portal? Yes...I truly believe that Mark Zuckerberg and company are devising a strategy to become THE Internet destination of choice. We're beginning to see the pieces slowly coming together. The first major move was releasing their API to the development community. Since then, we've seen a flurry of activity around the creation of applications on the Facebook platform. This in turn has led to a mass movement of developers to the Facebook community vs. other social networking sites like Myspace or LinkedIn (if you can even count them in this category).

And now this latest news about offering data storage to developers? Something tells me this is the second major move in a long term strategy that Facebook has up its sleeves. I'll talk more to this point in future postings.

But for now, I'll just throw this out there: what's LinkedIn, Myspace, or Xing doing? What about the job boards? For the time being, they're looking on the sidelines as Facebook races past them. LinkedIn has already stated that they will be releasing their API to the development community later in the year to early next year. But my gut tells me this is too little too late.

It's a classic example of copying a competitor's strategy as quickly as possible...however on the new web, this strategy fails miserably because the name of the game is innovation. It's about jumping from one S-curve to the next. Not riding on the tails of another model. And no matter how much LinkedIn believes that they are different compared to pure social networking sites like Facebook...let's face it: Facebook's strategy includes going into LinkedIn's sweetspot of professional networking.

Which means something has to give.

My bet? Without some true innovation from within, sites like LinkedIn are going to be looking quite out-of-date as new sites pop up...or existing ones innovate past them.

Which begs the question: are recruiters really following all this? They've become quite comfortable with LinkedIn's pool of talent. What happens when that well dries up because it's no longer popular (ala Xanga or Friendster)?

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