‘Tis the season for gifts and wishes. I have no presents for Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo and Google (and giving them gifts would violate Forrester rules), so instead I’ve dug deep into my bag of hopes to offer some wishes for these leading tech and social media companies:
- For Twitter, the gift of distribution. I’ve argued plenty on this blog that Twitter has already become mainstream based on the impact it has on our culture, if not on the number of people who use the information network. It must be rewarding for Biz, Ev and the Twitter crew to see tweets become news on CNN and in Entertainment Weekly, but that doesn’t pay the bills. For Twitter to become an ad-serving powerhouse (without annoying its loyal user base), it needs more people consuming tweets — it won’t be the number of people who tweet that drives Twitter’s revenue but the number of people who read those tweets. If Twitter is to maximize the potential of its Promoted Tweets, trends and accounts, it needs as many eyeballs as possible, and so in 2011 I give Twitter the wish of wider distribution. If Twitter can succeed in being integrated in sites across the Web (as Facebook has) not just as a button but as content, the future will remain very bright for the ubiquitous blue bird.
- For Facebook and its CEO, the gift of patience. I offer this gift not for Facebook itself, but for every journalist, analyst, observer, pundit and blogger who covers Facebook. The company was born barely five years ago in a dorm and has risen in short order to be a game-changing, revenue-generating, trendsetting force of nature with a valuation akin to 3M, Caterpillar, Comcast and Kraft (based on market cap). Sure, Mark Zuckerberg is young and his company is years from having a stable and mature revenue model, but it’s time to stop obsessing over things that don’t matter (Mark’s age, when an IPO will happen, etc.), recognize what Facebook is (big, successful and growing more so) and give the social network time to fully explore all the things it can and will become in the future. In the end, the only people who need to be impatient with Facebook about its business model and chief executive are its investors, and they seem happy with what’s happening in Palo Alto thus far.
- For Google, the gift of coordination. Google was the driving force in the Web 1.0 era, which is why its absence in Web 2.0 is so glaringly obvious. Of course, the company had opportunities to drive the social era — it launched social network Orkut in 2004 and acquired geolocation trailblazer Dodgeball in 2005. But despite these early moves, mighty Google was lapped by several (formerly) tiny organizations. In the end, the company failed to wrap its many social efforts (including Orkut, Dodgeball, Latitude, Wave, Buzz, Blogger, Picasa, Feedburner and others) into a cohesive offering integrated into its core services for consumers. In 2011, the sleeping giant awakens — although Google Me (or whatever the heck they’re doing) was expected before the end of 2010, it seems Google is now targeting Spring of 2011. My wish for Google is that it finds a way to offer not a new tool or service but to launch a coordinated and cohesive social offering that does what Google does best — taking noisy, confusing and dispersed data and turning it into relevant, useful and personalized information.
- For Yahoo, the gift of alacrity. When I arrived in the Bay Area over a year ago, Yahoo was one of the first companies with which I met, and I left impressed. I saw great ideas for integrating social into the Yahoo experience and met with passionate and smart people — yet a year later many of those ideas are nowhere to be seen. I also got an early preview of Yahoo Local, which it eventually launched 10 long months later in a mere eight cities. I’m a fan of Yahoo’s — I still use its email client and when my wife and I launched an online store eight years ago, I was happy to do so on Yahoo’s platform — but Yahoo needs to get the lead out. The world is changing quickly, and it has competitors at Twitter and Facebook who can move from idea to launch in a matter of months. I understand the Yahoo platform is huge and complex, but I know it has the brainpower and ideas to succeed. So my wish for Yahoo is that it moves with greater alacrity to stem the painful losses.
Of course, for those at these companies, for Forrester clients, and for all of you reading this blog, I wish a safe, prosperous, exciting and social 2011. Enjoy the holidays, and be safe — no drunk tweeting!