Keep Your Eyes On FriendFeed: It May Be The Google Of Social Networks
In the past week, I have been ignoring Twitter, and noticed several things:
- FriendFeed has largely replaced my use of Google Reader.
- FriendFeed has essentially replaced my use of Twitter.
- FriendFeed has definitely replaced my use of Facebook.
- FriendFeed is fast.
- FriendFeed has search (also fast).
- FriendFeed isn’t standing still – they launched “rooms” out of nowhere.
- All the tech bloggers I want to communicate with are on FriendFeed.
The general trend in my online life, at least: FriendFeed is taking over all my online social activity.
Wait, what the heck are rooms? At first glance I found them rather inconsequential – basically a “mini FriendFeed” based around a particular subject. However, with further thought, they could also be:
- Microblog: Say someone finds blogging through Blogger or WordPress too difficult (hard to imagine, but look at all those Twitter users). They can set up a room, post links, videos, and pictures, and people can comment on them. That’s a blog in a nutshell.
- “Sub-FriendFeed” For A Topic: Facebook has set up corporate “pages” where users can congregate around a specific brand. One can use FriendFeed rooms similarly: I set up a Battlestar Galactica room where people can discuss anything related to that show.
- A filter: Users may start limiting their subject related activity to particular rooms, thereby reducing noise.
- A private “chat room”: A room can be set as private for your secret Bohemian Grove activities. Thoughts of IRC.
I also noticed: FriendFeed with a bunch of rooms in menu bar at the top and users on the side, resembles a social network spread over different topics. Hmmm.
The Larger Picture
As web 1.0 imploded, Google appeared out of the blue after Microsoft and Yahoo! thought they had search wrapped up. Google’s stark, empty page with just a search box was a breath of fresh air in contrast to the image-laden and over monetized portals. Google stripped search back to the essentials and delivered wicked fast and surprisingly accurate search results. The rest is history.
I daresay FriendFeed is the clean, wicked fast social networking tool amid the cluttered and over-burdened social web 2.0 sites of today.
FriendFeed Is Taking On Digg And Reddit
FriendFeed cuts to the heart of my definition of social. All I want to do is share crap with people, comment on stuff, and feel like part of a community, and maybe meet some new eccentrics – as fast and efficiently as possible. FriendFeed does this via a bottomless stream of interesting stuff that goes on forever, without widgets, superpokes, emails, ads, or cutesy graphics.
FriendFeed contains the core function of the social web – sharing links and comments – and made it fast, easy, and fun – through simple choices. Moving comments up to the top level. A roll over a name gives you a link to follow them. Zero large images to make the stream the focus.
Digg and Reddit probably think they have social news totally locked up. They don’t.
FriendFeed Is Taking On Twitter
Then we have Twitter: a great idea, really short “tweets” that are sent to all your followers and also over cell phones. But they are faltering on execution and FriendFeed may be poised to take advantage of this. In FriendFeed you can share a line of text – just like a tweet. But once in FriendFeed, people can comment on those shared lines of text (can’t do that in Twitter), fostering conversation. Meanwhile, a mobile FriendFeed is surely in the works.
Twitter probably thinks they have tons of momentum and their users won’t leave for a more reliable service. I wouldn’t count on that.
FriendFeed Will Take On FaceBook
Lastly, we have Facebook with their social stream and just today, they’re talking about pulling activity from more websites into their walled garden. Sound familiar? FriendFeed does exactly that. Is Facebook scared of something?
Facebook may think they have the social stream locked up because they have a huge user base and everyone goes where their friends are. I wouldn’t count on that, either.
I Have FriendFeed Fever
These platitudes certainly read like hype, as Digg, Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook have multitudes more users and piles more traffic than FriendFeed. In addition, I’m just one user and it’s silly to extrapolate my experience out to the internet at large. But I’ll venture out on a limb here: I believe FriendFeed is the “real deal,” and it has the potential to challenge several assumed Web 2.0 successes so far – simultaneously.
Granted, considering FriendFeed the be-all-end-all social networking platform out there – the “one social Web 2.0 site to rule them all” is woefully presumptuous and premature. But I daresay there’s a reason why other early adopter bloggers like Robert Scoble, Louis Gray, Steven Hodson, Steve Rubel, Tony Hung, Duncan Riley, and Thomas Hawk have caught the “FriendFeed Fever.”
That reason is a gut feeling – that FriendFeed is simply a better tool. I had this feeling when I first used Google, Firefox, the iPod, and the iPhone. Something compelling, useful, fun, addicting, and a possible paradigm shift.
I would not be surprised to see Google suck FriendFeed back to the mothership and use it as the underpinnings to their fuzzy OpenSocial strategy: Gmail + GoogleReader + FriendFeed = look out.
Watch the heck out for FriendFeed. It’s the real freaking deal.