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Google and Facebook could disappear in the next 5 years.

Stashed in: Product Inspiration, Google!, Facebook!, iPad!, Apple, Amazon, The Future, Evolution of the WWW

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Eric Jackson writes:

Social companies born since 2010 have a very different view of the world. These companies – and Instagram is the most topical example at the moment – view the mobile smartphone as the primary (and oftentimes exclusive) platform for their application. They don’t even think of launching via a web site. They assume, over time, people will use their mobile applications almost entirely instead of websites.

We will never have Web 3.0, because the Web’s dead.

Web 1.0 and 2.0 companies still seem unsure how to adapt to this new paradigm. Facebook is the triumphant winner of social companies. Yet, it loses money in mobile and dragged its feet to get into mobile in the first place. It is just trying to figure out how to make money on the web – as it only had $3.7 billion in revenues in 2011 and its revenues actually decelerated in Q1 of this year relative to Q4 of last year. Facebook has no idea how it will make money in mobile.

The failed history of Web 1.0 companies adapting to the world of social suggests that Facebook will be as woeful at adapting to social mobile as Google has been with its “ghost town” Google+ initiative last year.

The organizational ecologists talked about the “liability of obsolescence” which is a growing mismatch between an organization’s inherent product strategy and its operating environment over time. This probably is a good explanation for what we’re seeing in the tech world today.

Are companies like Google, Amazon, and Yahoo! obsolete? They’re still growing. They still have enormous audiences. They also have very talented managers.

But with each new paradigm shift (first to social, now to mobile, and next to whatever else), the older generations get increasingly out of touch and likely closer to their significant decline. What’s more, the tech world in which we live in seems to be speeding up. Tim Cook had an interesting line about the velocity of change in his earnings call last week:

Through the last quarter, I should say, which is just 2 years after we shipped the initial iPad, we’ve sold 67 million. And to put that in some context, it took us 24 years to sell that many Macs and 5 years for that many iPods and over 3 years for that many iPhones. And we were extremely happy with the trajectory on all of those products. And so I think iPad, it’s a profound product.

Yahoo is already a shell of its 2000 self. There is increasing chatter (including from me) about how Google’s facing a painful multiple contraction, once its desktop search business (still accounting for the vast majority of its revenues and profits) starts to fall off a cliff as users dramatically drop traditional search for new ways of getting information they want in a mobile world.

Facebook is also probably facing a tough road ahead as this shift to mobile happens. As Hamish McKenzie said last week, “I suspect that Facebook will try to address that issue [of the shift to mobile] by breaking up its various features into separate apps or HTML5 sites: one for messaging, one for the news feed, one for photos, and, perhaps, one for an address book. But that fragments the core product, probably to its detriment.

Considering how long Facebook dragged its feet to get into mobile in the first place, the data suggests they will be exactly as slow to change as Google was to social. Does the Instagram acquisition change that? Not really, in my view. It shows they’re really fearful of being displaced by a mobile upstart. However, why would bolting on a mobile app to a Web 2.0 platform (and a very good one at that) change any of the underlying dynamics we’re discussing here? I doubt it.

Apple is really a hardware company, so it’s difficult to put it into a bucket related to web apps. It certainly seemed very Web 1.0 with its Ping social application. Yet it’s succeeded in mobile from making the best hardware and software ecosystem for apps to proliferate on. In some ways, as long as it has a successful iOS platform, it doesn’t care which Web 1.0, 2.0 and mobile companies fail or succeed on top of it. Maybe that’s why so many non-mobile companies seem to want to emulate Apple. Google bought Motorola Mobility (MMI) to get into the hardware business. Facebook and Baidu (BIDU) are rumored to be launching their own mobile OS.

The bottom line is that the next 5 – 8 years could be incredibly dynamic. It’s possible that both Google and Facebook could be shells of their current selves – or gone entirely.

It’s a lot easier to start asking Siri for information instead of typing search terms into a box compared to thousands of enterprises ceasing to upgrade to the next version of Windows. Google’s 76% market share. Facebook’s 900 million monthly users. They just aren’t as sticky as they seem.

In all likelihood, we could have an entirely new way of gathering information and interacting with ads in a new mobile world than what we’re currently used to today.

The Googles and Facebooks of tomorrow might not even exist today. And several Web 1.0 and 2.0 companies might be completely wiped off the map by then.

I love this passage so much I'm going to re-read it over and over.

I saw this and was blown away. It's a very compelling case.

I remember a couple years ago Clay Shirky said 5 year plans are stupid. When people asked why he replied, " because 5 years ago Facebook and YouTube didn't exist."

A professor of mine at film school said, "The good news is: Hollywood is always seeking new talent. The bad news is: Hollywood is always seeking new talent." Very rarely is anyone who was brought to success by the last big paradigm shift ever ready for the next big paradigm shift.

The most interesting thing is that people think Google and Facebook are well-prepared for the mobile shift.

Google has Android plus YouTube plus mobile search, and Facebook has Instagram plus the most-downloaded app of all time.

And yet, look how quickly Instagram was able to drop in and disturb the old order.

More disruptions are coming. I believe.

It takes a good five years to achieve something meaningful:

A company that starts now could achieve something meaningful before 2020.

In the meantime, Facebook has set its IPO pricing:

In that convo, Eric and I discuss how ex-Facebookers are involved in some of the most significant companies in recent years: Asana, Cloudera, Spotify, NationBuilder, Quora, Pinterest, and Path.

Several ex-Facebookers work for venture capital firms, including Greylock, Benchmark, General Catalyst, and Founders Fund.

We live in interesting times.

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