Social Networking Front Runners Challenged

In the past few years we have seen the social networking sites flourishing.  Facebook seems to have moved to the front by a significant lead considering the membership. Qzone, Habbo, MySpace, Windows Live Spaces, Orkut and others are trying to catchup the front runner. While the  established ones in this space trying to improve their presence and market share,  the new social networking companies  are also popping up lately. Twitter for one,  has recently made its move by introducing TwitPic. AndIThoughT© …….. about….. what has made similarly situated  set of organizations successful in the past. What steps the incumbents need to take to stay viable.

The thrust of the new companies delving in the social networking space is to formalize a new open source standard which is more aware of the user privacy concerns and gives them more control on their private information.  Facebook and others are challenged by these new start ups.  The dilemma for the established ones is  similar to what was faced by AOL few years back regarding emails. They (AOL) were forced to open up their email delivery system so that their subscribers could also connect to the rest of the world who were not on AOL. The incumbents of the social networking space have to make a decision about when to move to the single open standards and how quickly or protect the ones they are currently invested in.

Google Nods to open standards direction by providing API to access a member’s  public profile information while protecting the private or group accessible information. Facebook slowly moving from their proprietary standards to open standards wherever and whenever  they can.  Supporting the OpenID login was a step in that direction. The activities of  the incumbents are constrained by their focus to become profiAvlon Security And Patroltable as soon as possible.

It will be interesting to see consensus develop for one single open standard, which does not exist yet.  Though not certain, Diaspora a new company has shown their leaning towards the OStatus standards developed by StatusNet. The company was formed by four students at NYU‘s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences who plan to develop a social network built on privacy of personal data. Another team OneSocialWeb supported by Vodaphone is also working on similar concepts.

AndIWondeR© …….. if some of the current front runners will fade away from the scene like Netscape faded away from the browser space. How the landscape will look like once the shakeup is complete.