Yes, according to this post on Alan’s blog, the social networking phenomenon is over. Huh?! Are you kidding me?! Just because too many entrepreneurs are trying to create a new business plan for this area doesn’t mean the end is near.
My prediction: Social networking sites will continue to evolve and offer far greater services in a year or two than they do now. Just like most industries, 2 or 3 will firmly establish themselves as the leaders and another dozen (or more) will exist on the scraps left behind, with more of a vertical focus. Ultimately though, I see social networking sites as the place to store all your personal information. The key to achieving and maintaining a leadership role in this space won’t be marketing and brand building, but rather creating a rich layer of rights/permissions so that only certain aspects of my personal data store are accessible to other users.
Longer term, this category morphs from a quick way to meet a new business colleague or potential date for Saturday night to one where all your medical information, tax information, etc., is stored. (Yes, the data privacy freaks will have a cow, but they don’t have to participate in this one.) Then, when I need a refill on my allergy medicine, the prescription information is exposed to my preferred online pharmacy for processing. Or, my accountant is easily able to retrieve my tax return from 2003, even though she didn’t create it. The pharmacy can’t get to the tax return and the accountant can’t see the prescription information, but it’s all in one convenient location, easily accessed by web browser, cell phone, etc.
No, social networking isn’t dead. Far from it. Alan just isn’t considering all the opportunities social networking has to become something much more special than it is today. (Unfortunately Alan still hasn’t enabled comments or trackbacks to his blog, so there’s no effective way to tie my comments back to his original post.)