The OS-based Lifestream Will Kill the Web-based Mega-Service, Part the Third

New data this week about the Facebook being abandoned by the younger set:


Now, there could be an error with the way this was computed — I’m fighting a number of edtech fires right now and don’t have time to dig into the methodology. But it matches the anecdotal evidence we’re seeing.

One interpretation of this is now that parents are all on Facebook, it’s uncool. You can’t really say the stuff you need as a teen in front of parents.

And I think that’s true. But what’s more interesting to me is not the motive, but the opportunity. In other words, how has it become so easy for teens to move from the “platform” that is Facebook to the world of a multiude of single purpose apps? The answer: what’s enabling that is the notifications panel of the smartphone. And what’s happening is the OS’s are the only entities around with enough klout to insist on app integration, so web based-harnesses are becoming also-rans.

In other words, if I build the world’s newest videochat service or best net-enabled slow-cooker, maybe I build a Facebook app, maybe I don’t. Maybe I integrate with Google+, maybe I don’t. Maybe I open up my API to IFTTT, maybe I don’t. But what’s crucial to my survival is I integrate with the major app-based OS’s providing the sort of sharing and notifications hooks that promote use. And this ends up having a reinforcing effect — because the only place I can check ALL my stuff is my phone, that’s where I’m going to check it.  The fact that Microsoft has also gone to app-based OS’s on the desktop and Xbox just seals the deal.

Call me crazy, but I think that has implications beyond the 13-24 year-old demographic. Facebook has always been a relatively decent photo and link sharing site, but its attractiveness as a *platform* was based on the idea that it would become the “lifestream” that lent coherence to all your other interactions.

Your OS does that now, so Facebook is just another service whose individual components can be replaced as necessary. Teens have realized that, I think — who’s next?

(Incidentally, there are both upsides and downsides to this. But I think ultimately it’s an unstoppable shift.)

19 thoughts on “The OS-based Lifestream Will Kill the Web-based Mega-Service, Part the Third

  1. Math was never my favorite subject, but if Fb reports over 1 billion users, what does that mean relative to the data above from iStrategy since about 800 million are missing? Of course, that’s not to say that the trends aren’t right.

  2. I’d love someone to look into the discrepancy (and other ones). I’m bogged down now, but perhaps someone else could sort out how the definitions in the two studies align? (Also — I *think* we’re looking at U.S. trends only here — your billion is worldwide).

  3. So an unbundling of Facebook-style social networks? I had my own unbundling moment a couple of years ago, after one of Facebook’s many privacy policy changes. I figured, hey, I can share and talk about photos on Flickr, I can share and talk about running on RunKeeper, I can share and talk about parenting on my blog? Especially when I can use a service like or IFTTT to pipe my updates from those platforms over to Facebook. Why give Facebook all that free data, when I’m not their customer, I’m their product?

    My unbundled approach lasted for maybe six months before I found myself posting more regularly on Facebook again. Why? That’s where my friends are. They didn’t come with me to Flickr and RunKeeper and my blog. There’s a crowd effect here–and if the under-24 crowd isn’t on Facebook, I can easily see them unbundling (Pinterest, Tumblr, and more), using their smartphone to keep track of everything, just as you’ve described.

    • Good point. One of the interesting changes too has been that the mobile phonebook is now a way to make your connections portable across apps. So my phone book isn’t really a phone book — it has every single person from my gmail, etc, and becuase of various “We’ll find your friends for you” apps, most people from facebook too. I agree, for the moment there may be no motivation to move off facebook while your friends are there. But if the momentum shifts, a transition can happen much more quickly than a few years ago.

  4. Are we starting to trade in lock in to a web based mega-service for lock in to a mobile OS ecosystem? I’ve tried to escape, moving my genealogy stuff to a webtrees instance, RSS to selfoss and bookmarking to semantic scuttle, but none of these are esp, smartphone friendly (no native apps, after all)

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  6. How does the app-based environment you foresee fit with the promise of hackability you’ve been discussing more recent;y. I’m trying to wrap my head around some of this stuff, and I have always associated the app based ecosystem of most popular OSs as a blackbox. How does hackability work in these environments.

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