So . . . two or three years ago, Facebook was the thing that you had to be on. Now, it’s the thing that everyone has. As the service reaches maturity, it has evolved into several things and has the potential to become something entirely different over time.
Like email. Everyone has one and it’s getting more boring by the second. (Not Facebook’s fault. It’s the nature of people today.)
A repository of all your activities. More and more people are using their nice shiny smartphones and apps like Instagram, Viddy and Cinemagram to document their activities. They then push that media to Facebook. You can log into FB and see what you’re friends have been up to.
A data company. Some would say that they’ve been a data company for years but in order to be a real data company, you have to be able to act on the data that you collect. Other than “targeted” ads, Facebook has been unable to use the data in a meaningful way. That will quickly change.
Single sign-on. The promise of single sign-on has always been a customized experience. I won’t see things I’m uninterested in and will only receive offers specific to me. For the online world, our browsers take care of most of this from the user experience side of things although more and more sites are embracing Facebook credentials. Also, as business moves to applications and Facebook credentials are used to create accounts, “The New Big Blue” is becoming the de facto sign-on method.
Lynch pin for apps. Because people are using Facebook credentials, the company is becoming the lynchpin for apps (along with collecting data) and could become more functionally entrenched with applications as time goes on. Something I’m sure Apple would love. :)
A better ad company. More data should make them better. We will see . . .