I've been to a couple of different parties in the past few weeks where everyone is talking about Facebook. It's quite interesting seeing its evolution from an equivalent of FriendsReunited to a genuinely useful tool that people are using to organise their lives.
I was planning to meet up with someone this weekend and was sent a Facebook event rather than an email or a phone call to sort out the details. Allen and Overy recently suffered an internal revolt when their IT department decided to block the Facebook's website. There was a swift backpedal and the lawyers are back to manically facebooking each other.
The thing that confuses me is why this didn't happen with Myspace or Bebo. They both emerged (in the UK) around a year to a year and a half ago. They swiftly took over many people's lives and had them organising their lives around the websites. However, these sites didn't win over my social circle so I always felt a little left out.
Whole books have been written on network effects and how things like social networks can evolve. I can't be bothered to think about why they succeeded. Instead I'll draw a couple of pretty graphs.
This one shows the growth of Facebook against those of its competitors.
As you can seem Facebook is doing a good job of catching up, but it's still a huge distance behind Myspace and Bebo. It'll take them a good six - nine months of current growth. Worrying for Piczo is the fact that they've actually lost audience in the last month. Things are not going to go well for them if they can't fix that soon.
A quick look at the younger people shows Piczo in even more trouble:
Facebook has already overtaken Piczo and is halfway towards catching Myspace and Bebo.
A good thing to notice on this graph is that Bebo and Myspace are neck and neck for the umber one social networking spot. This should be noticed by all the brands competing with each other to see who can spend the most on Myspace - there's a couple of different places to spend that money...
The 'hidden' rise of Bebo and Piczo shows the importance of having good measuring tools in the internet - you can't see what other people are doing online. A website is usually less exciting than the last episode of 24 and so gets talked about less. The current measurement systems still leave large amounts to be desired.
We'll see what Google or Tacoda will offer us when they get round to sharing the piles of data they are sitting on - I suspect there'll be some interesting nuggets within them.