Social media seems to be in a consolidation phase. Although social media is built on the principle of open collaboration between many parts creating a stronger whole, I can’t help but to feel that social media is beginning to resemble any other fast growing industry; with some of the tech heavy weights racing to become the super power of the social space. The battle to become the preferred social platform is becoming more and more interesting as days pass (yes…the pulse of the industry changes daily). If it’s not becoming the default social platform that these tech Titians covet, it is becoming the most powerful social ad platform, creating a universal social currency, or the most use app platform. Whatever it is, companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple are widening the reach of social media all while making barriers to entry for startups much higher.
Facebook has launched the ambitious Open Graph protocol in efforts to create the semantic web. This will increase the web’s dependence on the largest social network in the world.
Google launched Buzz a few months back in attempts to begin indexing all socially driven data while giving users the utility of updating people on all their happenings throughout the social web (excluding Facebook). The Buzz began to fizzle as it was a duplication of what many Twitter clients can do with a less appealing interface.
Twitter’s open model is now proving to be beneficial to not just users but them as a company as they are beginning to push out their powerful ad platform, Promoted Tweets.
Apple launched another hardware product that is proving to carve out another new product niche. The iPad also indirectly is positioning Apple as a front runner to take over the social gaming space.
Each company seems to have a different point of entry as they move towards domination of the social space. Others seem to be progressing better than others. As these companies continue to tinker with new ideas and products, the users begin to benefit more and more. This means more quality products, stronger communication platforms etc. However there is someone that suffers and that is the entrepreneur.
With the larger companies looking to expand their reach in the social media space, it makes it harder for startups with limited resources to compete. Startups are forced to do something incredibly novel, piggy back off a larger platform or deeply niche themselves. Doing something cool and different is always admirable, but will people use it? Developing with an API is savvy but you are at the mercy of the platform that servers the API. Niching yourself can allow you to compete but can also make you lose revenue potential due to the shrinking of your market.
Forgive me for sounding overtly pessimistic because that is not typically in my nature. On the contrary I am very excited to see what takes place in the upcoming months. We live during a time where the very way we communicate is ever changing. With change and shifts in power comes opportunity…I am just not exactly sure where yet.
Where do you think the next big opportunity for web based startups will be?
Which company do you think will take the crown and become the king of the social space?