GigaOm makes his point on something I fully agree – social networking will become a feature.
Why? Because social networking as an independent subject matter by itself gets boring after a while. Scale has already been achieved by those that focuses on social networking as the end goal – MySpace and Facebook. You have to provide a greater utility beyond just “linking to your friends online”. Nor will explicit dating as the end-goal be a compelling reason for people to join a social network. I rest my case for networks like Xuqa that plastered hot chicks on their homepage a while back in order to lure desperados.
But I do not think the social networking war has ended. The definition of social networking is pretty wide to encompass just about any site that allows you to browse other people’s pofiles and connect with them as “friends”. Friendster used to dominate a few years ago, and then usurped by a new generation of teeny-boppers who never heard of Friendster but used MySpace instead. Similarly, MySpace will also be susceptible to an upstart social network – one that began by being highly customized for a local niche group, like the high school students 5 years from now who think MySpace is lame and want something their own generation created. There is, after all, a limit to the number of friends you can maintain online, hence network size, which MySpace has now, might not ensure its longevity. Secondly, a premium-content-based approach taken by Fox to make MySpace an entertainment portal is still an experiment by Old Media to see if they can transplant their ways successfully to a new medium. First movers never always win.
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