I hate to say I told you so, but foreseeing the Yahoo Mash failure as far back as launch day did not require supernatural psychic abilities. CNET is covering the less-than-surprising news from Yahoo that as of September 29, Mash will fall into the internet graveyard, which seems to be collecting more and more web 2.0 properties these days. Just check out the Mash traffic stats at Quantcast for a clear sign of trouble.
Let’s face it. Facebook and MySpace are here to stay, at least for now. It’s going to take more than a half-baked ripoff to overtake them. They didn’t win because they hit the market first. They didn’t win because they are significantly better than other options. Although FB is better, in my opinion, but it depends on what each user wants to get out of their social networking platform.
Facebook and MySpace are on top because they took early advantage of the network effect, which states that social networks are only as useful as the connections within them. Mash failed to attract large numbers of users during their beta period and after the official launch. So where’s the incentive for the average internet user to switch? To put it more simply, users aren’t going to sign up for a social network unless their friends are already there.
It’s a chicken and egg situation, right? Facebook and MySpace differentiated themselves by attracting the early adopters, which in turn made it attractive to the next wave of adopters since they didn’t have to sign up for a virtually empty service.
Looking in my crystal ball I don’t foresee Facebook and MySpace maintaining their domination forever, just as I don’t foresee Google remaining at the top of the search game forever. The beauty of the web is that anybody with a fresh idea can start a company in their garage (or dorm room) one day and hit valuations of $15 billion (with a “b”) within just a few years. The next wave of innovators are going to change the game even more than Facebook, MySpace and Google have done. The problem of predicting which startup will succeed is compounded by the fact that the eventual winners probably haven’t even been thought of yet.