Mediastow, a media intelligence company in the Middle East, anticipates that leading social media website Facebook will lose its popularity in 10 to 15 years.
Mo Elzubeir, Founder and Managing Director of Mediastow, says: “When it comes to the Internet, everything is cyclical. The fate of MySpace demonstrates how a strong player can quickly fade into oblivion. Looking further back, Geocities represents another similar example.”
GeoCities was originally founded in late 1994 as Beverly Hills Internet (BHI). In its original form, site users selected a “city” in which to place their web pages. The “cities” were named after real cities or regions according to their content.
Ten years after Yahoo bought GeoCities, the company announced that it would shut down the United States GeoCities service on October 26, 2009, and GeoCities websites actually became unavailable from next day. There were at least 38 million user-built pages on GeoCities before it was shut down.
Elzubeir added: “Currently, there is already a debate on whether Facebook is bleeding users from its launch countries in North America. While it is possible to blame seasonality or even saturation, I believe there are other more important factors at play here.”
According to Inside Facebook’s data service, Facebook lost 6 million users in USA last month, dropping from 155.2 million to 149.4 million. That is the first time U.S. numbers dropped in more than a year. It also lost 1.52 million users in Canada, dropping to 16.6 million — an 8% drop — and 100,000 each in the U.K., Norway and Russia.
Total Facebook users were still up 1.7% thanks to growth in countries where the service got popular later, like Mexico and Brazil. But huge drops in the countries where Facebook first became popular can’t be good news. It suggests that there is a saturation point where people begin to burn out on the service, according to the same source.
Facebook will continue to “grow” overall in numbers, because of “new countries”. In other words, its growth is powered by the periphery of the market, while its core market is weakening.
Elzubeir added: “Newer entrants, such as Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram amongst others are offering better subsets of what Facebook offers and doing a better job at it. As a result, I think we will continue to see more people moving away from Facebook.”
Elzubeir pointed out that privacy concerns and content ownership are other issues facing Facebook.
He added: “Privacy concerns will continue to be an issue, but I think Facebook is failing to learn from the mistakes of Geocities/Yahoo. Owning all your users’ content is eventually going to backfire.”
Elzubeir concludes that Facebook will stop being relevant in 10-15 year time at the latest.