Mark Zuckerberg tried to pull a Steve Jobs the other day by announcing that a new product of his was going to kill off a competitor. Now there have been articles on the fact that email use is still rising and I'll give five reasons why Facebook is dying and five reasons why email will remain king
- Facebook is at near saturation point, this makes it valuable through the Metcalf law on the value of networks but is a concern in an area where displacement can be exceptionally rapid (anyone remember MySpace?). In China and other places Facebook has practically nothing
- Facebook is a one trick pony and its trick isn't as good as Google's. Google's trick is to provide to OTHERS, Facebook's is to control within the garden. The moment the garden is under threat then the value disappears
- Facebook is struggling to innovate, the aborted 'places' approach is an example and the new messaging piece (hardly ground breaking) is part of that. Great first act, but where is the follow up?
- Facebook's value is on selling its user data, as data privacy rules tighten this avenue will become harder
- Facebook haven't shown how they transition from glorious start-up to proper heavy-weight. Yahoo had more and still failed, why are FB's leadership different?
- Email is open - standard protocols, standard formats and available to anyone. This means its ability to connect is significantly higher
- Email is ubiquitous - we don't need the same client, server or anything. Whether its mobile, desktop, web or anything else people can communicate and it has massively more engaged users than Facebook.
- Email can be private - Encryption, local storage and other elements mean email can genuinely be private
- Email isn't owned - there isn't one big company trying to fleece or sell its value is in connectivity
- Email is federated to the individual - I choose what I want to see and what is important.
Zuckerberg wants to kill email BECAUSE its open and because it allows people to be social. And ultimately this is what I think dooms Facebook. In a federated world the winner in social communication is going to be a federated approach, right now that means email but it doesn't mean that in 5 years we won't have some clever software that enables people to 'carry' their status on their mobile device and have it federated in the manner they wish independent of the provider.
Email isn't dying. Facebook is dying and Zuckergerg is not the next Steve Jobs.