The purchase of FriendFeed is but a sideshow in Facebook's drive to make itself a must-use social networking site, but it does show the lengths the company is willing to go to become king of all social media.
This feels early for consolidation in social media, though with profits still elusive, some companies, like FriendFeed, will accept financial shelter when it is offered. The founders, it has been much reported, are former Google stars whose talents may be more profitably used at Facebook.
Would-be users seemed to decide that while FriendFeed's social network aggregation features were useful, that they were not useful enough to justify a separate platform. Over time, I am expecting everything people liked about FriendFeed to show up as part of Facebook, which will become "home base" for many people's online lives.
The new social features added to iGoogle home pages only demonstrate how outside of its depth that Google has become. The whole iGoogle portal presentation looks tired and the applets themselves are not terribly useful. I do not need an iGoogle home page, though Google News is where most of the browsers I use open.
Google's inability to become a major player in social networking, either by purchase or better design, is a reason for concern among those wanting to see a Google that does more than search. It is really sad to watch.
As for the marketplace, I suspect that, as eBay came to dominate auctions, and Amazon dominates books, Facebook is about to become the dominant social networking platform. That means a goodbye to MySpace, which will remain important but only as sort of an online jail that keeps its downscale users safely off Facebook.
Next purchase? Facebook needs to buy or duplicate the functionality of Yahoo Groups, home to many thousands of club, interest group, and other organizational mailing lists. Google has tried to mimic the functionality, but I have seen no reason to move my Yahoo groups to a different platform. Facebook could change that if it could give me the mailing list features I need with the FB integration I would like to have.
I would love to have FB as a common user interface my Yahoo Groups. I run a half-dozen and belong to dozens more. Yahoo Groups are not perfect, especially in managing people who belong to multiple groups and should not have to receive the same messages twice, but they are good enough and require only an e-mail address to subscribe.
Because I have these groups, I can write about amateur radio or post local bird sightings without sending them to hundreds of people who would certainly not care to receive them. Or have any interest in the rest of my life.
Facebook is, for me, a place to post items of general interest to readers of this blog, listeners to the radio program, and various friends.
I cannot use Facebook to create special interest groups and allow members to interact with one another using e-mail as the primary entry and distribution tool. That is a feature FB needs if, as it appears, the service seeks to become all things to all social networkers.
This story, "Facebook Nears 'Must-Use' Status, with eBay and Amazon" was originally published by PCWorld.