The news which broke yesterday about Facebook acquiring FriendFeed makes good business sense, but it won’t be the last big deal of its kind where two online properties merge. And once those deals and mergers become more common, you can be sure that Washington, DC will start looking at social networks in a whole new way.
With rumblings already beginning that Google’s near-ubiquitous nature may create trust concerns among federal regulators, Facebook is moving toward it’s own kind of ubiquity. For example, FriendFeed used to be a central place to aggregate your social network activity; once the details of the merger are worked out, you’ll be doing that on Facebook. Facebook won’t just be one place where you share your life online, it will have the ability to be the central hub.
And that seems to be the ultimate goal for Facebook – to be the internet extension of your life. Just as you might walk out the front door to enter the real world (assuming you live outside of Washington, DC) Facebook would be the place where you start your activity on the web – whether connecting with friends, shopping, or catching up on the news.
If it sounds ambitious, think about Google’s current online dominance. How many people do you know who have a Gmail account? How many have Google as their home page, or check current events through Google News? When you want to find out about someone’s background, how do you start? By Googling them, of course. Considering that, 10 years ago, no one knew anything about Google other than it was a 1 with 100 zeroes after it, that makes Facebook’s apparent ambitions pretty reasonable.
That is, until someone at the Securities and Exchange Commission who understands technology starts asking whether losing niche social networks/social media services (like FriendFeed) hurts consumers through a shrinking marketplace where the currency is personal data. If the current administration isn’t thinking about this yet, it will almost definitely be on the radar screen of the next. And then the online mergers and acquisitions may be come very big deals.