Thursday, October 11, 2007

My take on the Facebook Long Tail

Ever since Tim published his analysis on whether facebook apps can be construed as an internet market in itself where long tail exists and it is rather so thin that defies the original long tail theory or the fact that it is a losing proposition for 3rdparty developers.

Chris Anderson follows up arguing if it is even mature market that the long tail theory can be applied to.

Great discussion. But I kind of agree with Chris. Not around technical analysis and its applicability but more so around the fact that the idea is too nascent to do the analysis. Its like trying to analyze internet web 1.0 economy in 1997. Not because critical mass isnt there yet, but its because the engagement is different for different age groups.

Clearly early application developers have had a head start and because network effects is the gas pedal on which this market breathes, they are galloping while the laggards remain envious and wishful. But the success in engagement they have had is with stupid (and funny) apps which teens, students. Clearly the older age groups have started to participate, but is it to observe or is it to participate. Fred makes the point in his musings that participation drops off like a waterfall once the years weather off. Facebook is still predominantly a 15 to 26 year old service. The usage drops off dramatically once people get above 30 years old.

Research from a recent user study (email me the link if someone finds it, I cant find it) shows that more than half of Facebook users are not currently enrolled in a university or college and that the site’s fastest-growing demo is the 25+ age group. So they are enrolling and observing and wondering. But they are not engaging like the younger ones do. I see that in my peer group and thats what I feel.

So what does that mean. The 25+ browse more but participating less while 16-25 engage using it as their predominant social communication and entertainment tool.

So what does that say for 3rdparty applications. They are still stupid because active users are 16-25. They will mature if the 25+ generation starts adopting social networking platforms for their social interaction needs. I bet that 25+ generation will do that, they are getting warmed up.. kind of learning the new ways.. isn't it always like that as we grow older.

What do you all say?

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