Is Facebook the new Windows?

Is Facebook trying to become an operating system like Windows or just look and act like one?  Something happens to companies that start off small and then become successful giants.  Often, they lose their ‘mojo’ and eventually become something that barely resembles the original.  When you move from the garage to the office campus, your spirit often doesn’t make the move with you.   Just ask the scores of Dot-com companies that crashed and burned, Icarus-style, at the turn of the century.

In the beginning, Facebook started off very simply, you put in your data, you accepted or declined friend connections and then you maybe updated your status.  That was about it and it was elegant and simple.  Fast forward to today and Facebook holds large scale developer conferences like the big boys at Apple and Microsoft, and rolls out features at a maddening pace.  They have also tried and failed several times with things like adding their own email and Groupon type discounting.

As they are now a multi-billion dollar entity, they are forced to continuously evolve to meet the demands of their user and partner communities.  As Google+ and other competitors rally at their gates, they face constant pressure to innovate and defend their position.  When they eventually go public, Wall Street will demand a pace of growth that levies steep punishment for any type of stall.

The price of all of this success is the abandonment of what made Facebook appealing in the first place.  Just as operating systems like Windows must release new versions on a consistent schedule, so does Facebook, and with such a large user base, angering large segments of the community with these changes seems unavoidable.  Just think of the amount of times you upgraded your computer software and immediately regretted it.  Windows 7 is the most dramatic recent example of this where enormous amounts of features were suddenly made hidden and inaccessible to even the power-users.

Even though Facebook seems to have wedged themselves into the social media incumbency position in a way that MySpace never could and Google+ likely won’t, the unstoppable rolling stone of upgrades always comes with the inherent risk of throwing the bath water out with the baby inside.

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