I find Facebook incredibly useful, if not particularly exciting. My usage reflects that – I like to add people on Facebook in order to maintain connections, and I like to keep my profile looking fresh, but I rarely surf Facebook like I used to. Yet there’s no escaping Facebook. The numbers tell the story. Check out these statistics compiled for a recent Fortune article:
- 175 million members
- 3 billion total daily minutes of use
- 850 million photos uploaded each month
- 15 million who update their status daily
- 24 million pieces of content shared each month
Very impressive. Also in the sidebar, Fortune looks at the race to 150 million users. That feat took Facebook 5 years, versus 7 years for the iPod, 14 years for the cell phone, 38 years for the television, and 89 years for the telephone. Obviously it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but you get the idea (and notice how other technologies such as Google or Windows are left out).
With numbers like that, it’s not hard to listen to Mark Zuckerberg and actually think he’s got a shot at achieving his new goal:
"We think that if you can build one worldwide platform where you can just type in anyone’s name, find the person you’re looking for, and communicate with them," he told a German audience in January, "that’s a really valuable system to be building."
In the article, author Jessi Hempel positions Facebook as the new phone system, but I think the new email system is perhaps a more reasonable comparison. I think the “default” right now when you make a connection is to get an email address. You collect business cards at events and they all have phone numbers and email addresses but how many people actually pick up the phone? Email is the default.
What if Facebook could become the new default? Clearly, that’d be a big deal.
Already I think Facebook is the default platform for events, and most people seem to think it’s the default for photos. Can it become the default for communication in general? As I’ve said before, I think Facebook Connect is a step in that direction.