Whilst the popularity and growth of Facebook makes comparisons with search engines inevitable, it is missing one key ingredient: it is not indispensable. My numerous online hours can pass quite happily without feeling the need to look at Facebook, and I have noticed of late that days are passing before I remember to log on. Whereas once I made an effort to keep up with all the latest Facebook applications, news and rumours, now I find I give a little shrug. I find I really couldn’t care less about the latest applications being sold on ebay or the introduction of Facebook’s auto-complete for the sidebar search.
That is not to say that facebook doesn’t have a lot of potential, I just haven’t found that one thing that makes me need to go back again and again. Whilst there are applications that appeal to me, they are often clunkier versions of something that already exists at another URL in a more user friendly format and I prefer to visit those. For example, both chess.com and shelfari.com have applications on Facebook and standalone web sites, but applications aren’t as good as their sites, and whilst I have no need to return to Facebook, I want to return to chess.com to make a move on a game I am playing, and return to shelfari.com to add the latest book I am reading. The purpose of Facebook is just not defined enough for me.
Somebody needs to create a Facebook application that requires an already established user network, and is so innovative that users will have to keep coming back…whoever does that will quickly become very rich.