jfg wrote:That's a good point, but competition in social networking doesn't really work. One of them has to corner the market because I'm not going to check multiple sites to keep up with people. I think techies are trying to make something more out of social networking than what it is.
I remember back in 2004, when most of my peers were convinced Myspace was way better than Facebook and that one didn't need a Facebook (those same people kept a Facebook profile anyway). Myspace eventually failed where Facebook excelled because the latter appealed more to an older demographic group (and eventually virtually all demographics) that didn't want customized profiles gone wild which just took away from the user experience and the raison d'etre of the site to begin with (the watershed point being around 2007-08). Competition is clearly good for social networking as well.
I think what we have now is a slew of social networking sites that complement each other, more so than competing against each other. For example, Facebook and Twitter serve different purposes despite their features serving/operating in the same manner. Hence, why folks check Facebook and Twitter, even if it's easier to consolidate all updates in just one service. Then, you have the location-based services like a Foursquare which use these platforms as a conduit to get more users and enrich the ecosystems of those platforms.
Personally, I'd say that the upside to compete in social networking, but I actually there is a window for innovation albeit it's bound to come from a heavyweight like Google. I think the next big step in social networking is that of a master social network divided into different networks for different interests/purposes. Let's say, I don't want my drunk pics on the night out with my friends posted for everyone there to see, especially family and co-workers, but it's OK for say, my Sunday league soccer teammates to see. I can then log into an all-encompassing social network like Facebook for convenience's sake, choose which particular site/network(s) I want to share them with, and only those people within that network can see them. This also allows me to target certain messages at certain people (let's say, a forum dedicated to a particular comedy series) who will just "get it" when I say something like, "Did you see that ludicrous display from Arsenal last night?" and not to those who are worse for wear to understanding such specific messages. I haven't used much of Google+ since I got invited on during my vacation, but I suppose that's the purpose of circles. Also, the integration of G+ with other Google products (Gmail, Chrome, et. al.) will make using the service more "sticky" for users, while getting more of users' friends aboard.
On a grander scale, I'd say social networking will be a lot more intuitive to use than just merely updating people on what you're doing or what's on your mind. So, while there isn't a ton of upside for new entrants in this space, there is room for innovation, likely from one of the big players.