Yesterday, Friendster, the grandfather of social networking, announced that it would be deleting the majority of its users’ information and shifting focus entirely. The site, undergoing a realignment after being passed around through a few purchases, will abandon its ambitions in the traditional social networking space in favor of social gaming and entertainment. The most interesting part? The new Friendster will reportedly be built on Facebook.
The social networking space is very competitive, and it’s not uncommon for competing companies to be bought up by larger interests. Indeed, as recently as last year, Facebook bought Friendster’s portfolio of patents to protect against potential legal challenges, However, Friendster’s admission of Facebook’s ubiquity is more than a statement that Facebook is way ahead–it’s a concession that the race is over.
In a space which seeks to define who you are online, the intertwining relationships of 600 million people carry a lot of inertia, and, if yesterday’s introduction of the “Send” button is any indication, Facebook shows no sign of slowing in spreading the resulting influence around the web.
Many ask if any social networking startup can ever beat Facebook at their own game. Like those who asked the same question of Google a decade ago, the answer will almost assuredly be “no.” The game, however, is not zero sum. Hopefully, this will prompt Facebook’s others competitors to stop looking at the Open Graph as a concern, and begin to view it as a resource–literally a free manipulatable database of the connected world’s relationships. Time to start building.
If you still use Friendster, you have until May 31st to export your data before it is deleted.