Consultants, analysts and pundits come out of the woodwork and declare a tidal wave of change that never quite materialises. The proclamations are far reaching and impressive in their scope, and somehow two years later those same exhortations of future success disappear, never to be seen again.
No one actually goes back and checks past predictions versus current reality. Facebook’s latest announcements fit this description nicely. If the industry pundits are anything to go by Facebook is about to take over the world, somehow, although I’m not quite sure the manner in which they’re going to pull this off.
First off - there are a series of assumptions that pundits make that are far removed from reality. This is not limited to Facebook but generally applies to anything connected to the IT industry or the internet but usually reserved for the most “exciting” companies.
The most egregious and most laughable assumption is that everyone in the world is on the internet. This is not even close to correct. So you have the majority of the world that aren’t even aware of this phenomenon or may have heard of it but never used it. Apart from this, large swathes of the planet have massive bandwidth constraints and can only access a limited subset of the actual world wide web.
The second messy assumption is that there is this deep seated belief that those who do have access to the internet worship the internet. This is also not true. The internet has moved from being a novelty source of excitement to something that people use as a tool of convenience. People can read articles on the net, do their banking, update a status on their social networking site, book tickets for a concert or check the playing times of their favourite sports teams.
Some people have a very strong attraction to Facebook and spend a lot of time there. But how many? Facebook will happily tell you how many people visit their site (now around 400 or 500 million I think), but how many are very active? I for one and many of my friends will check Facebook once or twice a month. I hardly ever post anything onto Facebook and generally check on my friend’s updates to see what they’re up to. But it’s a casual visit.
As someone that is fairly ambivalent towards Facebook I am finding I like it less and less. I find the “Jenna found twenty squishy elves on her fairy farm!!” messages more and more annoying.
Targeted advertising is a source of immense excitement to anyone that has something to sell and it is definitely the Holy Grail to vast riches, or so we’re led to believe. The fact that these immense riches will be delivered to others and not to you and me doesn’t seem to strike the promoter of this “wonder” service as ridiculous when they promote it to us. I am so desperate for targeted ads it makes my knees weak.