Thomas Baekdal makes a good point in a blog post today: that Facebook is dying from its own complexity:
Facebook is really big, it has a ton of features. But, it is also turning into the worst case of complexity overload the web has seen in years. There are so many inconsistencies that it is hard to believe – or even to keep track of.
He draws an interesting analogy with Microsoft Project 2003 which, he argues, collapsed under the weight of its own functionality as people fled towards simpler platforms.
It’s a neat argument, and I’ve got a couple of things to add to it.
First of all, Facebook’s functional complexity is a response to a rather obvious problem: it’s pretty easy these days to set up a social network. Within three years, we’ve burned through three: MySpace, Bebo and now Facebook. Who says we won’t burn through another three in the next three years? Is it ever going to be possible for anyone to maintain a huge lead in this space?
Secondly, what do these gaggles of functionality say about Facebook’s product management processes? This is a company which should know more about its users than any other company on the planet. If it’s making bad calls on functionality, how on earth can that be? Is it perhaps because Facebook, like Apple, has a powerful CEO with a strong technical background, who acts as the internal product manager par excellence? In Apple’s case that’s led to a flurry of excellence. In Facebook’s case… well, perhaps not.