This issue came up again after reading a couple of reports / opinion pieces about new social sites and their likely success.
The first, talks about how there are simply too many now and people are rationalising their consumption of these sites – primarily to Facebook (for keeping in touch with friends), Twitter (as a means of content distribution), YouTube (for video), Flikr (for photos, although FB is ‘attacking this’) and LinkedIn (for their professional-side).
It was an interesting piece and one that I partially agree with. Why would you move to a site where your friends were not?
But there is another side of me that is a little more inquisitive and I need to try services like Path, if for no other reason than to see if these services can provide anything the others are not – are they complementary or competing? For example, I’ve been using Path for a couple of weeks and it is pretty cool and a visual way of showing what you are doing (so it is a more visual Twitter) and you can select who sees your posts. I then tried services like Bntr and others that I just didn’t get on with so gave up.
The other reason is that I have no idea if one of these will be a breakthrough. I mean, for those of us who still remember Friendsreunited there was a time when we couldn’t see another site coming and taking away its mantle for finding old friends, but a little site called Facebook did… and it ripped FR to shreds.
The second article, has more to do with innovation in web2.0. It is a CNN post by Pete Cashmore (founder of Mashable). In it, he talks about how any service that is going to try to usurp Facebook (or Twitter or any of the other current ‘big guns’) will need to be significantly different to the incumbents in order to do so. These are clearly providing a service that people value and people are creatures of habit, so they will only change if something goes wrong or something better comes along.
At the moment I don’t see that happening anytime soon – famous last words no doubt!