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The Future of Facebook


Despite today's falling stock price, I truly believe that many people - stock analysts among them - don't "get" Facebook.


Facebook is in its infancy and too much is made of its "cool" factor. At almost 1 billion users, Facebook has far surpassed "cool" and is a worldwide utility, just as Mark Zuckerberg always envisaged it would be.


LinkedIn, Google+ and others will never, to my mind, catch up (I exclude Twitter, because Twitter serves a different function), and the opportunities for monetizing Facebook haven't even begun.


Advertising isn't necessarily the future source of FB's income - at least, not in even the traditional social media sense (and other car manufacturers last week were saying that General Motors pulling its paltry $10 million of advertising from FB and making so much noise about it, didn't "get" FB, either) - there are probably far more interactive and personal means for FB to influence people's retail and financial decisions, not to mention the possibility of a Facebook bank or credit card (more likely, tap card or secure mobile phone algorithm).


It is easy and hip right now to knock Facebook, but I think much of that is "Facebook envy" and, just as the new, post-Steve Jobs-return Apple confounded naysayers, I think Facebook has a long, long way to go.


It's a part of life way beyond a fad, and the closest analogy might be the original (pre-Ma Bell breakup) AT&T in its infancy, or on an only slightly lesser scale, Richard Branson's Virgin Records - which became the sprawling Virgin Group, and which now has an extraordinary place in Britain's economy, from banking to airlines.


Facebook is how we connect - and those who don't like it may find themselves outliers: secondary when it comes to communicating around the world...or even just receiving birthday greetings from family and friends!


(For more details about the vision and focus of Mark Zuckerberg, and the brief history of Facebook, I would highly recommend reading David Kirkpatrick's excellent book, The Facebook Effect.)

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