Out of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, if one had to disappear, I think it would most likely be Facebook. Google, Amazon, and Apple are – in and of themselves – unique services that have dominated to such a degree that they face little competition.
Google dominates the search engine market with 64.5% of the US market share. In contrast, Bing (and Yahoo – powered by Bing), comes in at only 32.6%. While the debate between Google and Bing users is strong, there is no denying that Google, for whatever reasons (popularity, design, verbage, etc), is the primary search engine used by most individuals. Add all of Google’s branches, including branded tools such as Google Drive, or sites Google is parent to such as YouTube, and Google probably isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Likewise, Amazon has dominated the online shopping market. With over 65 million Prime members worldwide (not counting other non-Prime members who use the site), there are few better places to get good deals and fast delivery, even if there are arguments against Amazon highlighting its own products on the results page. It is now the “largest e-commerce company by revenue in the United States, as of 2017.” While traditional brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart or Target have online shopping and delivery options, they do not have the same impression of being a one-stop-shopping center the way that Amazon does, especially in the US where food and grocery delivery is an option. While the success and longevity of Amazon’s new ‘cashier-free’ brick-and-mortar store remains to be seen, Amazon itself is probably also not going anywhere any time soon.
Now, quick! Think of a phone. What brand was it? Chances are good it was an iPhone. Like Google vs. Bing, the battle between Apple and Android / Apple and PC loyalists rages on. Google may be imitating Apple with Play Store and Play Music’s ever expanding collections of apps, music, and podcasts, but Apple still reigns supreme in the hardware department. With steady market growth over the last five years, Apple has made both marketing and planned obsolescence work in their favour. With new phones coming out every year (from all companies), Apple rarely has to worry about users diverging from the brand.
“A new report from Verto Analytics claims that a huge swath of the PC market is eager to switch to a Mac PC (desktop or laptop), with 21 percent of laptop owners and 25 percent of desktop owners supposedly willing to make the jump. At the same time, Verto claims that 98 percent of current Mac owners are happy with their systems, with just 2 percent planning to switch to a Microsoft-based PC over the same time frame.”
So, Apple probably isn’t going anywhere either.
Which leaves us with Facebook. Let me first point out that Facebook has some tricky data to interpret. According to Statistia, “As of…2017, Facebook had 2.07 billion monthly active users…logged in to Facebook during the last 30 days.” This number does not take into account duplicate or fake accounts, or abandoned accounts linked to non-Facebook sites where users simply use Facebook as a login tool (e.g. Goodreads). Facebook is notorious for making actually deleting an account incredibly difficult. During a 14 day time period after requesting account deletion, users must take care to delete all Facebook apps on their phone, not “like” any post on any website that links through Facebook, or log on to any site that uses Facebook Connect. If any of these actions take place, the request to delete will be declined. All this to say, it is difficult to truly believe if those “2.07 billion monthly active users” is truly an accurate number.
Many people who do use Facebook now use it as a way to stay connected with business networks, upcoming events (as a meetup tool), and, let’s be honest, memes. Sites like LinkedIn, Meetup, or Google Hangouts are beginning to, or have the capacity to develop ways in which Facebook is no longer necessary for those uses. As online privacy becomes more and more of a grey area (with Facebook often being in the spotlight), fewer and fewer people will want to mix business with their personal lives online, as it’s so easy to do with Facebook. While Facebook does have the “Messenger” app going for it, there is no shortage of other apps that may take its place. WhatsApp is growing in popularity as a free messaging service, and with apps like Voxer which allows options for real-time voice recording, message saving, and group chats (as well as all the traditional text messaging options), Messenger just can’t hold its own if Facebook declines.
It will probably be some time before Facebook does officially decline. Old habits die hard, and Facebook is just that: a habit. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was not already an app (probably from Apple or Google, that you could probably one day purchase on Amazon) that allows users to log into most sites without Facebook Connect. Many sites already even have Google as a login option. It may sound harsh, but unless Facebook wants to go the way of MySpace, it better start offering something that no other site/company/operation has.