Why isn’t there a better alternative to connect with your pals?

Today on Facebook, a friend outside of tech was lamenting about how he
hated the new photo viewer, and then asked the question in the title.
Here’s the answer I found myself giving:

Because people like to go where their friends are already. That makes
it hard to build an alternative social network.

For a while (the past 4 years), a lot of people have tried to compete
as THE social network. But the general sentiment now is that Facebook
has won, with social networks as we currently know it, at least in
this part of the world.

So right now, startups are attacking verticals (niches), specific
social things that fb wouldn’t be good at. For example, Quora is a Q&A
site that is social in nature, but it’s something that fb can’t do
well, since Quora is like the library, and Fb is like a party.

The other sentiment that’s been gathering steam for the last year or
two is that Fb is really just like AOL in the 90’s, a walled garden,
and the internet completely burst that open. Therefore, some people
are trying to build a decentralized social network owned by no one,
called Diaspora:

But so far, they haven’t produced anything that’s gotten the attention
of developers other than their initial push.

I think there’s boom and bust cycles of centralized vs decentralized
apps. We’re currently in the middle of centralized. I don’t think
we’ll see a prevalence of decentralized apps until someone thinks of a
really good use for it for mobile phones.

You also have to remember the Facebook is a really good competitor.
Some of the smartest people work there. They’ve not only managed to
steal many Google employees away, but they also buy innovating
startups for their teams. Since about 3 years ago, engineers want to
work for Facebook, not necessarily Google.

I don’t think we’re there just yet, but Facebook will be blindsided by
some other trend. So far, they’ve executed well and are fast
followers. I imagine it’ll be something along the lines of mobile,
location, and decentralization. I don’t think anyone’s really nailed
that down just yet, and facebook will be terrible at doing


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