In Q3, NewNet Focus Turns to Business Models and Search

1Executive Summary

Social networking and the real-time web are changing the framework of how information on the Internet is consumed. The ability to share and disperse information through social platforms and do it using real-time tools is shifting the focus of content from “historical” news to real-time events. Social networking and the real-time web are co-developing as the next generation Internet experience and will impact all those who have a business tied to the Internet.

As the NewNet develops, competition among players is being monitored more closely. While the rise of one networking site does not necessarily mean the demise of another, user numbers are suggesting that there is a correlation. In the third quarter, MySpace appears to be the big loser. With Facebook superseding the social networking site in the U.S. and Twitter overtaking MySpace in the UK, MySpace is suffering difficult times, and these third-quarter results follow a string of negative news coming out of the second quarter as well.

As these social networking sites vie for users (and essentially market share), the competition has encouraged a great deal of mimicry. What one social network does, another is soon to copy. There were several instances of this in the third quarter, particularly surrounding new feature releases.

But it is not all competition. Facebook in the third quarter released a feature that allows administrators of Facebook Pages (the pages for celebrities, organizations and businesses) to send status updates out directly as tweets and will also be able to link each Page to different Twitter accounts. While this feature embraces Twitter as a communication channel, it also functions to keep users on the Facebook site, resulting in coopetition, a blurring of cooperation and competition that is marking this space.

The rise of social networks is also significantly impacting Google. With the shift to the real-time web, Google, the king of search, is trying to determine how it can better incorporate real-time search into its more traditional search. Google’s type of search can be classified as an archival, organized search of historical data. Social networks, however, enable the searching and accessing of current events and dialogues in a more casual manner that is personal to the user’s interests.

Google is being challenged by real-time search as well as competitive threats among more established players. In the third quarter, Yahoo and Microsoft inked a 10-year search deal. In light of the Yahoo-Microsoft partnership, Google will further struggle with market share. However, the company is working to forge ahead, releasing a slew of new products in the third quarter. These apps and search features are geared toward moving Google into the NewNet era, providing context to the user experience.

Social networking is a rapidly evolving space. The leaders of today can easily be the losers of tomorrow. The NewNet is forcing companies, new and old alike, to continue evaluating and redefining themselves to keep pace with how the Internet is evolving. The real-time web is not a momentary trend, but rather the future of the web. The next several quarters will be critical in defining what the real-time web will be and which companies will take the lead in bringing it forth.

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