Social Enterprise

Let's be honest, Facebook is a badly overpriced photo-sharing and gaming site

Facebook is about to launch one of the biggest tech IPOs ever. Don't be fooled. Read 10 reasons why Facebook's future is highly uncertain.

Credit: iStockphoto/narvikk

When Google went public in 2004, I had an uncle who asked me if he should buy GOOG stock. My answer, "No way. They have an awesome product, but no good plans for turning it into a business."

Sorry about that, Uncle Mark. At least the advice was free.

Most of my family and friends have long since forgotten that horribly misguided prediction, and so now that Facebook is about to go public, I expect a lot of them to come back and ask me if they should buy Facebook stock. My answer will once again be, "No way," because unlike Google, Facebook doesn't have a great product, and it's long-term potential is sketchy at best.

Of course, now that the Facebook IPO is officially on the way, most of the tech press is fawning all over it with staggeringly exaggerated praise about it being a revolution and a watershed moment and lots of other craziness. Heck, yesterday Techcrunch even replaced the usual design of its TC logo with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's face.

Facebook has two things going for it right now. It's about to make a lot of paper millionaires and it will pad the pockets of day traders and Wall Street insiders when the stock opens with a big jump because of all of the initial hype.

Okay, Facebook has one other thing going for it -- a whole lot of users. And, I'll admit we should never underestimate the power of that.

Still, the tech world is badly in need of some perspective here. Let's keep in mind that most of the activity on Facebook is based around two things: photo sharing and gaming. Photo sharing is wonderful but it's not a very lucrative business (just ask Flickr) and the future of photo sharing is mobile since phones are becoming our primary cameras, and Facebook's mobile experience is abysmal (if I'm being kind). Facebook's photo sharing has succeeded in spite of its mobile incompetence, but only because right now it's the place where you can share your photos with the most family and friends.

Gaming is Facebook's other strength, and unlike photo sharing it is very lucrative. However, Facebook is entirely dependent on third party game makers, especially Farmville creator Zynga, which could eventually get tired of being a cash cow for Facebook (it's 12% of all Facebook revenue) and decide that it can make a lot more money and control its own destiny by going out on its own. Of course, the more likely scenario is that Facebook will take some of the money it raises from its IPO and use it to acquire Zynga and other game makers since they represent a major feature of Facebook and a critical source of revenue.

However, remember that gaming is a faddish and fickle business. People always get bored of games eventually and look for new games to play. If Zynga/Facebook miss a beat and another popular game pops up somewhere else, then people will jump to other games (connected to other social networks) and eventually drift away from Facebook.

Those are just two of the reasons why Facebook's long-term future is highly uncertain. Below is the rest of the list.

10 reasons Facebook's future is uncertain

  1. Its own users have very little trust in the company
  2. The site's ease-of-use is among the worst on the web
  3. The user experience doesn't translate well to smartphones and tablets
  4. Teens are jumping to other social networks now that their parents are on Facebook
  5. A lot of Facebook's stickiness is based on games from third party companies
  6. Photo sharing is a major part of its activity, but doesn't generate revenue
  7. It has already maxed out its user base in developed countries
  8. It's highly doubtful that it will get a chance to compete in China
  9. Its financials look a lot more like Yahoo than Google
  10. It has to fight the natural cycle of social networks dying and being replaced

Now, let me give Facebook a compliment. In spite of its convoluted user interface and promiscuous attitude toward privacy, it does have over 800 million users, and that's not purely an accident. I'd argue that one of the primary reasons for that is ridiculously simple: The site is always up. (Ironically, Facebook had a very brief outage on February 2, the day I wrote this. But, that was significant mostly because the site rarely ever has a hiccup.) Even when Facebook was growing at an insane rate, the site virtually never went down. And now that it's the most trafficked site on the Internet it still virtually never goes down, and it almost always loads very quickly.

Nothing frustrates and alienates users more than a site that is slow or fails to load. Facebook's site engineers are the unsung heroes of the social network's success. They had to create completely new technologies like the Cassandra database in order to keep Facebook online as it reached traffic levels that no site on the Internet had ever approached. Meanwhile, a competitor like Twitter that could have siphoned off more users from Facebook a couple years ago, sputtered and regularly died when it started growing at an exponential rate. Remember all the Fail Whales?

So, uptime and performance are two of the major ingredients of Facebook's secret sauce. However, the rest of the web is catching up with Facebook's technical wizardry and Facebook itself has open sourced its cutting edge data center designs. As all social networks become as bullet-proof as Facebook, it will have to compete more on its site experience and its mobile experience, for example. As a company, Facebook hasn't shown that it's very good at that stuff. Plus, it's going to have to fight the natural cycle of people getting bored of the activities on Facebook and wanting to start over in building their friend list on a new social network because they friended too many people and it's easier to simply start fresh.

I'm not saying Facebook is going to die any time soon. I'm not saying that it's not a wonderful way for you to stay connected with your family across the country or your old friends from college. I'm just saying that it's not worth anywhere close to the $75 billion it's being valued at in its IPO, because it's highly likely that all of us will be using a different social network 5-10 years from now.

I will gladly admit that I was wrong about Google's IPO, and if I end up being wrong about Facebook I'll admit that eventually, too. But, after going public, Google pulled off a major surprise. It unleashed something just as revolutionary as the search engine itself -- a highly-effective new way to buy and place advertising on the web. Unless Facebook has a multi-billion dollar surprise of that magnitude up its sleeve, then it is destined to become the world's most overpriced photo-sharing and gaming site.

Also read

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

164 comments
EBathory
EBathory

The Facebook fad is, at the very least, annoying. At its worst, it can provide fertile hunting grounds for those with less than good intentions. It's seen all over the web--"sign in with your Facebook account". "Find us on Facebook". Personally I am tired of this phenomenon. Yeah, it provides a great means to connect, but I prefer regular websites and blogs. Oh yes, and emailing my friends. Facebook has become intrusive, boring and has over saturated the internet. Remember what happened with MySpace. I think Facebook will eventually head down that same road.

sightsandsounds
sightsandsounds

If I were Mr Zuckerburg, Id sell it all and get out, I see another BUST period coming, just like a few years back.

stu.field
stu.field

You said that you are expecting your friends and family for stock advice regarding Facebooks IPO. Somehow I think that after their experiance with you and google you may have a long wait.

aflynnhpg
aflynnhpg

I actually agree with your article, though I'm not supprised that you missed the Google IPO thing, you seem to have a knack for missing all things google. ;-)

asy.ronen
asy.ronen

let me start by saying that personally I hate facebook, BUT... as it seems to me there are two major factors that will ensure the success of facebook at least in the near future: 1. it is the place to be if you want a mindless chat with your virtual friends and while doing so you get exposed to adds. and since the average time people spend on facebook is significantly bigger than time spent of google, advertisers will pay facebook more than they will pay google. 2. facebook is too big to die. take a look at other companies like microsoft or ibm, they have enough money in the bank to keep reinvent themselves to make enough money until the next revolution. if facebook will play it smart it will re-morph itself to whatever is currently lucrative in the online business using its 1b users as a giant lever.

suziep12
suziep12

I've always been suspicious of Facebook and all other fads that are too popular. If Jay Garmon is right and Facebook is the new AOL, it should sink faster than the Titanic!

Kaliolio
Kaliolio

Many of the responses say that facebook has been their best method for finding people they have lost track of. At risk of sounding a but pathetic, have some of you noticed that the majority of people aren't so much looking to be found? You get a quick flurry of a few emails then remember why you lost each other. yes you don't spend the rest of your life thinking - I wonder shat ever happened to so and so - but I am not all that convinsed that finding lost people is all that usefull after all.

spiderbaby1958
spiderbaby1958

Facebook reminds me of an old (and I mean OLD!) SNL sketch for something called "Mr.Tea". It was essentially a funnel on a stand. You put the cup with the teabag here, you pour the hot water here. "...and Mr. Tea does the rest." The service that Facebook provides in response for collecting volumes of information on you is called THE INTERNET. It's blogs, chat, email. I think I deleted my account. I guess I'll never really know for sure.

WasabiMac
WasabiMac

The only value Facebook really has is that it can mine you posts (and all your relationships) and sell your profile for ads. The same thing Google had, only less focused at the time they went public. Like ink jet printers, it isn't the printer (Facebook.com) that makes money, it is the ads (ink). Your profile is a never ending steam of revenue to the company that sells you to whoever expresses an interest. And wealthy, mindless investors can't hurt the launch much either.

WasabiMac
WasabiMac

The only value Facebook really has is that it can mine you posts (and all your relationships) and sell your profile for ads. The same thing Google had, only less focused at the time they went public. Like ink jet printers, it isn't the printer (Facebook.com) that makes money, it is the ads (ink). Your profile is a never ending steam of revenue to the company that sells you to whoever expresses an interest. And wealthy, mindless investors can't hurt the launch much either.

stupid user name
stupid user name

Your title has captured my thoughts, thoughts I've had for years.

therealjunkman
therealjunkman

And never WILL. I had it for a short time, only because my ex wife kidnapped my kids. And it was the only way I could stay in touch with them. (Although it didn't help for very long, SHE was far better at controlling the kids than I am at controlling the router) Now, I have the kids for good, and the EX uses it to create havoc for me with the kids. I'm planning to block it from my router, a little here and there, making it seem as though it is NOT rock solid. Then, it will be blocked altogether. And then, I'll have some OTHER site or issue to contend with... Ahhh. Marriage, don't you just love it? OK, A bit off topic, but really, I'm not so different than others who have used it. And my reasons are mostly the same as all those others using it. Contact. That was my point. That's my personal reason, but, there's more. It's IM app is the PITS! Way worse than ANY I know of. Yahoo's chat, (or IM), function, works SO much better, why even bother with FB's? I admit, sharing photos was fairly painless. BUT, and this is THE killer for me other than what I mentioned above: All those lovely viruses and other malware! The games, in particular, are KNOWN to be THE single best way to get infected! Even my KIDS know enough to stay away from the games. (I am deliberately slow to 'fix' their computers if they get infected) Third party or not, FB is presenting them, and has some responsibility to hold it's 'third parties' accountable for damaging it's reputation: As THE place to go to get an infection on your computer. As for wasting time? U betcha! My kids can and DO waste almost all their homework time on it. I HAVE to allow them access to the internet for school. But they will sneak a second (and third, and fourth) tab under when they think I am looking elsewhere. (I ain't that stupid, I was a kid once, and if WE had had computers and the internet... My friends and I wouldn't have gotten ANY education!) What do they mainly use it for: CHAT! THE WORST app ON FB. And anyone who isn't on FB is living in the stone age, as far as they are concerned. They just create another account to avoid parents, Grandparents, teachers, and anyone else, (usually adults), that they wish to avoid... Which is most of the time. As far as the other sites, LinkedIn and such, I know they (my own kids) are already migrating over, little by little, still spending most of their time on FB, because, as was noted, everyone is on FB! It's like the lowest common denominator. The lowly FB for poor old Grandmas and others, who are incapable of even defragging a hard drive without a personal visit. (And Grandmaw, MY kid's only living one, is forced by location to still use dial-up, and even SHE can, and does, use FB) That's what FB is now, today. In a couple of years, I'm with Jason Hiner... (The author) I think it will become a has-been like AOL. Existing on the fringes, a backwater for the technically challenged. Like Grandmaw... Still stuck with her dial-up modem @ 36 Kb/s on a good day. The stone age! Now, anyone have any NEWS?

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

Free is overpriced? What do you want, Facebook to pay you?

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

I bet against google and aol. Rather I didn't invest in their stock. Still haven't seen a good fortune teller in the stock market. Well I won't place any bets about facebook. Not going to buy stock in facebook either.

dlaminjn
dlaminjn

Like human beings, software products do pass through various stages of being born, growth, maturity, decline and death. A similar life-cycle will be seen on Facebook. In System Analysis, you should have covered this. Any technology product has to go through a life-cycle of being invented, developed, published, upgraded, revised, replaced or dies. Who knew Ms-DOS would be replaced? And already, chatting applications are replacing SMS technology. So, lets all think smart as left-brain thinkers, Facebook WILL die or get replaced. Same way as programming in QBASIC, newer generation will consider it a dinosaur soon.

Kaliolio
Kaliolio

First it was the humble BBS, low investment, no advertising to speak of - replaced by CompuServe. CompuServe had the content and the users + the global network. But they were owned by ultra conservative H&R Block and while technicly more advanced than AOL, could not manage to communicate this to users. I.E. they had 19.2 and 56k modems 90% rolled out years before AOL but advertised nothing because it was not 100%. AOL hyped their access speeds at a time when they had perhaps 10% running at then high speeds! AOL out advertised them. Then CompuServe came out with "WOW." A supposed game changer that was released in 640x480 resolution at a time when everyone was proud to own their new 1024x768 monitors. Their conservative oligarchy of Rob Vance and Steven Whilhite then refused to integrate with the internet in any way even while CompuServe bought Spry, the then only profitable browser company! This solidified their true conservative nature and killed them. AOL then was on top. They ran on a single computer system and were truly a single self contained system. Though this helped them to rollout global changes in the past, it made them myopic and anti internet. Though they tried some, they had a culture that simply could not adjust to the internet. Their philosophy was to conqure the internet. Thinking they could continue by advertising how cool they were just as they had done to conqure CompuServe, they failed to realise that they were effectively advertising against EVERYONE now since everyone was quickly launching themselves onto the internet. Again, HYPE won the day! AOL out hyped CompuServe. The Internet out hyped AOL. Enter FaceBook like MySpace and others before, they created a buzz and a sense of coolness. With marketing that could only be conceived through the university system they took the world by storm. They are loosing that buzz quickly as corporations take over and try to leverage that buzz into cash. Just as the internet was designed to be unstoppable, after all everyone with two connections by design starts routing internet traffic, some one else will come along with a better way to create buzz. It is after all ALL HYPE. CompuServe out hyped BBS systems. AOL outhyped CompuServe. The internet out hyped AOL. There is a fundamental change here though. Because the basic framework is now more solidified, it is now even more just a matter of hype. FaceBook runs on top of the internet. The next system will as well. Now for a guess - if governments make the internet a locked down system under their control, it will take the conservative reigns and will need to be replaced by a new "undernet." A global network that cannot be regulated - this will be the next great HYPE. All the old internet hardware is there and it could be built quickly with modest changes. The internet was created as a government tool. Perhaps it will end that way as well. Information will not be contained for long. Long live the "undernet!"

bartbrn
bartbrn

I'd read somewhere -- or perhaps hallucinated it -- that all those annoying little gamelets that people used to try and get you to involve yourself in -- Animal Farm, Flower Farm, Pot Farm, Mafia, Government Snitch, whatever -- are A (and I think this goes without saying) address-harvesters to generate lists of "targeted-marketing-suckers," that are sold to various corporate interests who want to pick your pocket; and B (which I'm obviously NOT so sure about, but it makes perfect sense), owned and operated worldwide by the Russian Mafia, which seems to have all along been WAY ahead of American and Italian organized crime in finding little niche markets online that SEEM tiny and innocuous in the vast spaces of the net, but, as Raymond Chandler wrote (I sloppily paraphrase) "It's not the big-time gamblers that make gambling pay, it's the penny grifters who stop off on the way home from work and give their rent money to the numbers racketeers(modern-day "perfectly legal" but tragically immoral "Lotto" ticket sellers or the Indian Casinos." Anybody else heard this? What ISN'T total BS that I know for an all-too-solid fact is that there is no quicker or more miserable way I've ever seen to foment family disruption, argument, rage, and even violence than FB. My personal opinion is that if your brain is so turned to mush that you feel the need to live your life out on FB or MySpace, you may as well watch American Jersey Pigs and eat the gas pipe NOW. I have nothing to do with this movie (wish I did!), but for a new cinematic examination of the current state of American Society, may I highly recommend the vastly under-rated Bobcat Goldthwait's new film "God Bless America." (http://www.hulu.com/watch/323440/movie-trailers-god-bless-america). It has a lot in common with the 1993 Michael Douglas movie "Falling Down," but without the obligatory stupidly moralizing "had to end this way." Instead, Goldthwait has "God Bless America" end the way WE'd probably write it. The whole spirit of it is -- if you can remember this far back, 1977 -- exactly in the vein of the scene from "Annie Hall" where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton are waiting in line for a movie, and some "yuppie" (a '70s term, kids!) blowhard begins expostulating -- loudly -- on the works of Marshall McLuhan. Woody turns to the camera and says, exasperatedly, "What I wouldn't give for a large sock with horse-manure in it." Moving directly into the camera, Allen throws his hands up and says "Whattaya do when you get in a movie line with a guy like this behind you?" Whereupon the guy also walks towards the camera and complains "Why can't I give MY opinion? It's a free country..." Woody remonstrates with him about being such a loud blowhard, and finally: "And the funny part of it is... Marshall McLuhan... Marshall McLuhan... you don't know ANYTHING about Marshall McLuhan's work." To which the guy responds, hands on hip, with "Really? Really? I happen to teach a class at Columbia on 'TV Media and Culture.' I feel MY insights into Mr. McLuhan have a GREAT deal of validity." Woody: "oh, do ya? Because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here." Woody looks directly at the camera and jerks his left thumb... uhh.. leftwards, and continues "So... so... yeah... just lemme..." Woody walks over to a large signboard (hidden by the film the frame until now) in the theatre lobby and reaches behind it, beckons the blowhard over with a curl of his right finger and says "come over here for a second," while tugging on the sleeve of a tall, scholarly-looking gentleman in tweeds who has been hidden by the signboard. It IS, of course, Marshall McLuhan, hands in pockets. He leans over Woody to look at the blowhard (McLuhan is about a foot taller than Woody) and says, haltingly and incredulously: "I heard.. I heard what you were saying. You... you know nothing of my work. You mean my whole fallacy is wrong. How you ever got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing." At which point Woody looks directly into the camera with a rueful smile and says "Boy, if life were ONLY like this..." And finally, McLuhan quietly cracks up. Well, the blowhard in the theatre line strikes me as exactly the sort of person who today would be living their entire lives on FaceBook, and Goldthwait's movie suggests what seems to be -- alas! -- the only remedy.

shaka.barnwell
shaka.barnwell

Facebook is highly priced IPO for a reason, it is extremely valuable. Facebook makes money from data mining. It has an extremely large user base, who gives it valuable information for free. Facebook sells that extremely valuable information to advertisers, sociologists, product designers, investors, anyone that needs accurate demographics. The zynga games are there to attract the users who will freely give their information to Facebook. I'm surprised how many people don't understand how Facebook makes it's money. Advertising is only a small part of Facebook's revenue stream.

Regulus
Regulus

What if an alien culture used Facebook as a source of intelligence prior to harvesting us?

rhonin
rhonin

A couple thoughts on your "ten" list... 1.Its own users have very little trust in the company - can't agree 100% but don't know 2.The sites ease-of-use is among the worst on the web - chuckle - it's not great but not the worst by far 3.The user experience doesnt translate well to smartphones and tablets - totally disagree - I run the web version on my Transformer and it works very well 4.Teens are jumping to other social networks now that their parents are on Facebook - not true - mine just made new other pages for them and their friends. I asked them and their friend do the same. More than one FB page is not uncommon. 5.A lot of Facebooks stickiness is based on games from third party companies - for some but not all. of my 4 kids, only one does games. mostly socializing. Most of their friends do not do gaming. small sample but this is a West LA group; one of the "socializing" capitals of the world. 6.Photo sharing is a major part of its activity, but doesnt generate revenue - an eclectic mix of photo / comment 7.It has already maxed out its user base in developed countries - getting close, yes. It is engulfing all other social network sites globally 8.Its highly doubtful that it will get a chance to compete in China - don't bet on it. I suspect a way will be found 9.Its financials look a lot more like Yahoo than Google - very true - earnings to share cost are a far cry from Google 10.It has to fight the natural cycle of social networks dying and being replaced - doubtful. I cannot ever recall seeing a "social" network quite like this ever before. Personally I think this is a different animal with some new surprises coming....

danmartini
danmartini

40% of the newsletter above the fold is your picture, your social media handles, and a block of text describing the newsletter as all about your picks and blah blah. That section on the right top of the email is larger than your 2 article teases. Let's be honest, if it wasn't so egregiously self-interested and self-promoting, I wouldn't be in the awkward position to point out the painfully obvious. In my inbox, all day every day, "Welcome to the Jason Hiner Show. Oh, and here are a few articles you probably saw in one of my other newsletters earlier today or yesterday or the day before that. but it's all good. Here's how to be my fan, in case you didn't catch that on the other newsletters. Ok, ok, these really aren't newsletters, per se, but anyway catch me on Facebook and Twitter and never, ever forget who runs this joint." Just food for thought, if you were curious how your readers perceive your material. BTW, what was this article about again?

Paa Yaw
Paa Yaw

i thought that i was the only person who doesn't appreciate facebook. the facts i just read are shocking and indeed every facebook user needs to read this. thanks alot for that posting.but please can you also suggest other social networks that seems better. thanks

silviustd
silviustd

"Facebook is a badly overpriced photo-sharing and gaming site" - it seems you missed the essentials about facebook.What is amazing is that everyone us fb however and , basically, for what they want it.From stayong up to date with your interests to photo sharing and games

jeyost
jeyost

you guys are totally missing the point here. it is about a new way to communicate. it is the new telephone and is immensely popular because of it. finally, it is software for girls that has roped in a previously largely disengaged, disaffected and technophobic demographic.

databaseben
databaseben

it might be over priced. it might be a fad. and it may even be a bubble. but the bottom line is that for the time being, people need to cash in and take advantage of the frenzy.

dfa19
dfa19

I think the writer missed a few points. Because of the 800+ Million users just like say walmart that buys a gazillion of products to control demand + price point they can dictate certain markets. He also misses the other reasons people use facebook. Where I work @ which is a high end fashion company with 10,000+ employees we employ facebook as a marketing tool to reach our customers. Its free and we have integrated it into our email sig/ Intranet and various other places we use this tool. I personally as a side business have a marketing/promotion company that like many other promoters use facebook to reach out to the huge user base to get our product/ message out (weekly club events/concerts/etc). As long as the user base does not shrink and their site is not buggy like myspace became (however I feel management/fox corp was their biggest issue) then I see them being a force to reckon with, especially since they are integrated into many other websites where you can use your facebook log in to comment and like things without creating another account. Ease of access is huge. Look at Apple, while I think windows is superior with Windows opposed to Lion/OSX, Apple has way easier usability for the normal user. Look how well they are doing. Not too mention Facebook focus on mobile, they have a plan not sure how long they will be around but there is def a plan for longevity in place.

cybershooters
cybershooters

I think Facebook will live and die based on who is able to make the best HTML5-based social media site. If it's Facebook, it will continue to be the dominant social media site for awhile. If not, it will die and on that basis I'm not buying their stock because it could be Myspace or Google+ or company X as yet unheard of. It could even be Microsoft, they could do something clever with Xbox Live. No way would I bet money on Facebook yet.

LostValley
LostValley

Also a thinly veiled population control CIA front.

tom.rhyne
tom.rhyne

As I come from a gaming background, it seems ironic to me that social media sites mirror online games in their adoption and stability. Conceptually, this isn't surprising. Social media, in essence, IS a game; it's just one where the "avatar" is a version (and rarely a particularly accurate one) of yourself. Things build, plateau, and often succeed despite a seeming dissatisfaction among their own user base. As one of the main drivers is user-base or community, after the peak from early "buzz" games and media sites tend to succeed based on their previous success. Users/players stay because they have built up familiarity or "legacy", often long after they cease enjoying the product itself. The barrier to entry for social media markets seems to be far lower than for gaming, mostly due to the broad stroke of the term "social media". The "next new thing" can be derivative or completely unexpected. Given the clientele feeds off the very "hip"ness (to the point one of Facebook's biggest drawbacks to many is its high-adoption and mainstream familiarity), it could swing the other direction in a flash. One thing Facebook does seem to do well is figure out quickly what the next trends are and incorporate them, such that they need not be mutually exclusive. If computer gaming has taught one thing, it's that trying to build a better mousetrap is foolish. In the social media market, this seems exponentially deeper. Facebook won't fall to "the next Facebook" (yes, I know Myspace had a similar aim that Facebook overbore, but it's really a bad comparison). It will fail to the first of something new, or eventually die of old age (its already having adoption issues among teenagers, as it's been labelled even such things as a "dinosaur" in articles I've seen), collaborative dissent (Zynga's relationship with Facebook is "tense" at best, and the application/gaming business is driving much of Facebook's revenue with Zynga still close to the top), or what I'll term "technical schizophrenia" (in which a product changes so much in so many directions over its run that the original intent is lost, the product's features hamper each other, and the various single-feature-driven-factions within the community clash violently). Either way, it'll be an interesting watch.

JWahl
JWahl

Many great comments, but the point of all this is Facebook, not just social media. Facebook is about to IPO, and what's the ROI, and for how long can you ride that train? It will make a killing on shear hype, but it's a worthless stock the moment it hits. If you invest in Facebook, unless you are marketing to children (mostly teens), no product will ever sell off their site, the numbers just are not there. People are there to chit-chat, share small amounts of info and like Jay Garmon mentions in comment to this, Facebook users are online to say ???Me Too??? 2.0, like the AOL of old. They may hit a like button, they may visit a band or a product Facebook page, but they???re not leaving Facebook to go look into your product, they're not here for that and as advertisers eventually leave, Facebook and its stock will tank. Don't get caught in the waterfall of selling and shorting.

patg00
patg00

So, you don't think that if the US passes internet gambling that facebook won't be poised to really start raking in the dough?

oldscarecrow
oldscarecrow

I've been puzzled by the timing and delay of the IPO. Jason Hiner's last paragraph about a surprise development would make a lot of sense, as a breakthrough a few months after an IPO is the best way in the financial world to overcome the inevitable drop in the stock price that follows the first wave of enthusiasm.

BJWiltzius
BJWiltzius

Interesting comments about the social media aspects of Facebook, but noone has mentioned that today, thousands (millions?) of small businesses, groups, artists, muscians and many more are running their businesses using Facebook! When it comes to connecting to your customers, organizing events and boosting attendence, and simply reaching people with like interests from around the world, Facebook just can't be beat. This is why the market is seeing so much value in this IPO. Social media is NOT a fad it is the way business is done, here and now.

Barmace
Barmace

You will probably be wrong again :)

jhammans
jhammans

This is quite possibly the largest database of "human" information in the world. Something that a lot of companies and "sellers of goods" want their hands on and in. Where else can you find out that a 35 year old white male from Nebraska likes this or that? Trends, tendencies, likes, dislikes, are all marketing dreams and companies pay big bucks to know this kind of information about all of the demographics. As long as people use facebook, facebook is relevant. And as long as facebook can sell your info to other companies, they will be a profitable company. Facebook knows exactly what you like, what you don't like, when you are awake, when you are sleeping, how often you are online, how many friends you have, where you are going and where you have been. This information is like gold.

EBathory
EBathory

Am I the only one who is sick of this fad? Facebook is everywhere--and now almost every web site offers the viewer to "log in with Facebook". It was amusing at first, but then it became ridiculous. Almost every business feels it must have the obligatory Facebook page. I agree with others in that as a photo sharing site, it's certainly not among the best and doesn't come close to those dedicated to photo uploading and sharing. The gaming--there are a number of excellent gaming websites out there. I am a member of one and the variety of types of games, as well as the quality, are so very far advanced over anything Facebook offers. For a small monthly fee, I can play anything from solitaire to extremely engaging and difficult large file games that cause one to really give the brain cells a workout. I think the author is right about teens abandoning the site now that their parents have hopped aboard. Teens are notoriously fickle. And also something that hasn't been addressed--Facebook can be instrumental in helping those with less than honest intentions have a field day and make life miserable for a lot of people. Personally, Facebook can't fall out of the public's favor soon enough. As for buying stock in the phenomenon--don't waste your money. In this day and age, things come and go at a blurring rate. It's not worth the risk. Thanks for giving me space to vent!

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

FB is now a Place for Companies to get people to [i]"Like"['i] their FB Pages and is moving away from the Mindless Drivel that it used to be into more a Marketing Department for many businesses. That is FB's future not a Social Networking Place for the constant stream of Mindless Drivel. Col

suziep12
suziep12

asy.ronen: Your comment REALLY depressed me.....because I believe, unfortunately, you are most likely right!

gechurch
gechurch

The entire article is about the Facebook IPO. He's saying the initial stock price is overpriced.

andyfee
andyfee

Are you sure that the users of facebook, pretty much all ages and people from all walks of life, including some that do not otherwise use computers, especiallly with the smartphone explosion, need constant change and upgrading? These are not the cyber geeks of the social net sites of yesteryear, looking for the next cool thing. These are people that have taken this software and integrated it into the most important aspect of thier lives, how they communicate with family and friends. Facebook is an efficient, free, familiar tool for this, nothing like it has existed before and I think the death of this beast is a very long way off, if indeed it happens at all. I think it is the modern day equivalent of the telephone directory.

LocoLobo
LocoLobo

Use your profile to convince them you taste bad. :)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Based on that question, you're not going anywhere.

gechurch
gechurch

You pay a fee to your carrier to make a phone call. That's where they make the profit. Facebook doesn't get paid per post.

andyfee
andyfee

Facebook isn't a gaming site and I'm pretty sure these days teens make up a small minority of users. It is a free, self sustaining and updating personal directory/address book with pictures and details about what your nearest and dearest are up to should you wish to be nosey and/or want to be in touch with them. Everyone is on Facebook because...everyone is on Facebook! Way beyond critical mass, something no other networking site has achieved. And, in your own words, it's everywhere. An uber monopoly on social networking. Do you really think a site will emerge that manages to get 400 million facebook users to jump ship AND cancel their facebook accounts all in one go to tip the balance in favour of that site? Not to mention the power and resources Facebook now has to keep up with the trends and new tech. Or maybe you think social networking is a fad and will die away? The only other thing I can think of is if Facebook starts charging for membership. Well, considering how much time and data the everyday person invests the site maybe that's no so far fetched. Don't think they're that stupid though.

RichardSanches
RichardSanches

There is nothing that could please me more than to see Facebook, google and Microsoft along with many other big corps. like GE go down the toilet like a big piece of feces. These companies have too much power. They have too much influence over peoples lives and small business. They are in bed with the politicians making it impossible for small business to survive. They are ruining America as a free nation. We the people are a bunch of suckers. It amazes me that every one has the attitude that they can't do anything about it. It's like a nation of zombies checking themselves in to slave prison camps.

RichardSanches
RichardSanches

There is nothing that would please me more than to see facebook, google and Microsoft along with many other big corps like GE go down the toilet like a big piece of feces. These companies are too powerful too greedy and have too much control over people's life. The are destroying America as a free nation. It made my mouth water just by reading the title. To think that so many Americans just think there's nothing we can do about it... we just have to go along with it. That's not what the revolutionaries said in the revolutionary war.

suziep12
suziep12

Actually, that is exactly what our startup company is looking for: a place to get noticed. So long as all of the mindless nonsense goes away???..

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

It's most defiantly the Modern Day Equivalent of the Telephone Directory or at least it will be when all of the Business int he World finally join and have their Face Book Pages. Currently it's changing and all of the New members that I have been notified of are Business who are proudly pushing their FB Presence to sell FB Users all over the world their goods. Just how many people will really want to be involved when this finishes happening? Sure they will not close their FB Accounts and I doubt that anyone claims that they will [i]though they should[/i] but when their In Boxes start getting filled with Adverts from their FB Friends with the [b]Specials of the Week[/b] many will rapidly loose interest. Of course if they don't close their FB Accounts any new business who join will eventually gain access to the Inactive FB Users E Mail so that they can Help them spend their money. ;) Col

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