Facebook yesterday made a big announcement about opening up its social network (of college students) to better compete with MySpace. What Facebook has done will cut into MySpace’s market share by providing a level of functionality unavailable there — today. MySpace is not going to sit still, however. In fact, I learned yesterday that some music artists on MySpace are selling music through partners. Quietly.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, has made some smart near-term competitive decisions but he’s also opened up Pandora’s Box. His franchise is college kids and those who want to be college kids. High school kids want to be college kids. Post grads want to be college kids. Hell, I want to be a college kid. Mr. Zuckerberg owned this social networking franchise but has decided to give it away in favor of providing unbridled technology and functionality to everyone. He is now selling a platform, not a college way of life.
Facebook will steal MySpace market share. It will grow. Then it will slow down. And then it will grow again because it will improve its mobile package. But then it will slowdown as the competitive field grows and Facebook loses its meaning to franchise users. Some smart entrepreneur will have gone to school on Facebook and provide a better social computing environment for Facebook’s core user.