Facebook Won’t Rule the Roost Forever

TechCrunch ran an excellent guest post by venture capitalist Mark Suster of GRP Partners about the future of social networking and Facebook’s current dominance. His last words in that post said it all:

It is no doubt that the next decade belongs to Facebook. But the coincidence is that 10 years out will be 2020 and when we look back from that date I’m certain that people will also find a Facebook monopoly a bit laughable.

He basically arrives at this point by going over the things social networking lacks right now and the opportunities for future startups, as well as a past history that reminds us that none of the big monopoly scares from the 90s and 2000s really panned out the way we thought.

Microsoft, AOL-Time Warner, Google, they’re all less scary now than they were before, argues Suster. I think he fails to mention a company that bucked this trend: Apple. Together with AT&T, they’re a major monopoly force of our time (which my favorite law professor Tim Wu has argued about before). Also, Google’s clearly still an Internet powerhouse, despite some blowback from newcomer Facebook. In the end, Suster’s argument and predictions are still worth a full read for anyone interested in the future of social networking, and thusly, the Internet itself.

 

* If you’re interested in social networking opportunities for the future (as an entrepreneur, investor, etc), see this question on Quora (also embedded above).

The Future of Windows and the Suffocating Failure of Vision

As far as anyone can tell, nobody (including Microsoft) knows what’s in store for the Windows OS after Vista hits shelves this coming Spring. John C. Dvorak himself wrote an excellent column regarding the ‘end of the line’ of the OS with Vista, and I couldn’t agree more. (Link to the Dvorak article here.) The main concern I have isn’t just a lack of features to promote new versions of the OS, but a lack of attention given to the underlying code and structure of the OS itself. Windows has ballooned into such an overgrown, giant, hideous monster that no one (including the folks at Microsoft) know how to tame it. How can these coders even continue to build ontop of the damn thing? I just don’t see how this is going to end beautifully for Microsoft or for the end user. Worsening this situation is the fact that software and OS developers are getting spoiled by advances on the hardware front. Code growing like an out-of-control hedge? No problem! Quad-core CPU’s are on the way to handle all the extra crap that these OS’s will process! API’s and other system files and processes getting unruly and difficult to manage? Don’t even break a sweat! New caches, 64-bit data handling, fatter memory pipelines and faster internal busses will be there to create the illusion that it’s just as fast as ‘new technology’ is supposed to be! This is not how software and operating systems should be developed and if it’s how things are to go on, then we’re all in for a big bad dissapointment once the next Windows version rolls around. The last time the coders at Microsoft built something from scratch was Windows NT in the mid-90′s. Since then, all the other operating systems are simply built on top of the code of Win-NT. The next update came in the form of Windows 2000. Then Microsoft created the ‘consumer-friendly’ version of Win-2K by adding some more code, throwing in a few visual themes and easier network setup and device support and called it ‘Windows XP.’ Then came Windows 2003, which seems to be as ‘fresh’ an OS as we’ve been able to see lately. Then again, it was just built on top of the Windows 2000/XP and only included a few changes. Now Vista isn’t built entirely from scratch either. It’s got so much code from all these past OSs, it’s bound to hold itself back from being as fast as it truly can be. This is where the guys at Apple get to pat themselves on the back and thank Steve Jobs for porting the NeXT initiative over to Apple and creating Mac OS X from scratch. Mac OS 9 simply has nothing to do with OS X. What’s this done for them? Wonders, absolute wonders. The OS is a joy to use: smooth, fast, and quick on its feet. You can practically feel the versatility of that light, easy-to-manage codebase they’ve got running under the hood. Microsoft needs to take a hint from the Apple guys and start over! If not that, then create a department whose goal it is to oversee and manage the code that Windows runs on, fine-tuning it daily akin to what the Linux community goes through with its kernel releases. You’ve got countless programmers all over the world fine-tuning Linux code all the time. Why can’t Microsoft do the same, but in a private corporate entity? Of course they can! And if they don’t, it’s going to cost them big time, seeing that Windows is half of what they make all their money from (The other half being the Office productivity suite). Microsoft: it’s time to streamline your Windows code!