Could Facebook be the next Microsoft? Someone has to be the social network operating system.
In the early 90’s the computer world was chaos. There were a zillion formats floating around for everything: spreadsheets, printer interfaces, modems, floppies, displays, faxes, you name it.
Then Microsoft came and dominated everyone into submission. Now your product only had to work with Microsoft and your company could make millions. Thousands of programmers learned to work with the Windows API.
Sometimes a conquerer is needed to bring unification. Pax Romana and such. They say the trains ran on time under Mussolini. (Or not.)
Nowadays the problems of printer interfaces and faxes are pretty much solved. The windows API has been eclipsed by the web. And on the web, social networks are a huge force, accounting for nearly 7% of all internet traffic and rising.
But so far it’s been chaos, with people migrating from network to network, and no interoperability between them.
With their 25 million user base, and an openness to letting 3rd parties make money on their platform, Facebook is positioned to be the Microsoft of social networks.
The questions now are: (1) Is social networking mature enough that it would matter? (2) Will Facebook maintain their lead in innovation and openness?