The Social Media Monopoly

Posted on July 21, 2010

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Interesting article on Wired today – 5 Things That Could Topple Facebook’s Empire. It’s fun and easy to create this lists – 5 things that…, 10 things that… – but thought-provoking nonetheless.

Terms on a patent are 20 years, but businesses of the Facebook sort are difficult to make patentable, let alone enforce any legal restrictions on design or usability. (Ask Apple how that went with Microsoft a few years back.)

This effect shrinks the window of opportunity for a company like Facebook to capitalize on their monopoly and create an infallible social network medium. But, infallibility is more of a quixotic notion that one borne in reality. Technology companies with enormous market and mind share are constantly getting nipped in the heels by direct competitors or emerging niche players in the very same industries that the Facebook-like companies helped to create – Skype with other VoIP providers or eBay with UBid, ePier, atOncer… Heck, even Facebook took over the social media space created by previous players like MySpace (remember them?).

Facebook has been around a while and still emits a feeling that it’s still in start-up stage. Monopoly power is a good thing – that’s what drives entrepreneurs to create new products and services because of the clear profit motive. Would be a shame if they missed their profit opportunity but waiting too long to capitalize.