Facebook is a giant of social media. Entering 2014, its market capitalisation tops £80 billion. In October 2013, it demonstrated that it is able to be profitable. Its position as the Google or the Apple of social networking appears to be relatively secure.
MySpace was the original social media giant. Its position of market dominance seemed insurmountable. In 2005, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation acquired it for $580 million. And then Facebook came along and stole away much of its market share. In 2011, MySpace was sold off for just $35 million, a sign of just how much its star had fallen.
MySpace popularised social media. But it’s attitude was quite different to that of Facebook. As the name implies, MySpace was focused on “me” rather than other people. It offered a huge range of options for customising one’s homepage. Many of these options necessitated a basic familiarity with the HTML programming code. People spent so long working on their own “space” that they barely had time to look at other pages. It was a strangely inward-looking social network.
Facebook took notice of the success of Google versus Yahoo! as well as search engines such as Lycos, that no one has heard of anymore. Sometimes, simplicity is key, especially on the World Wide Web. People are rarely willing to learn to code with HTML when there are simpler options. The casual user is short on time. Apple provide a brilliant example: they have essentially created an entire brand which revolves around minimalism and simplicity of use, and Apple is the most highly capitalised publicly traded company in the world. The likes of Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram are very simplistic services that focus on just one aspect of social media: microblogs or photos.
Facebook’s position as the giant of social media seems secure. But with newcomers eating into market share, and the fates of former social network giant MySpace and other former WWW leaders in their category such as Yahoo!, Facebook knows that it cannot afford to become complacent.