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Apple and Facebook – Too big to fall?


With each month that passes there appears to be more and more speculation that arguably the two biggest tech companies have passed their prime.

Apple and Facebook both completely redefined their market several years ago and blew their competition out of the water. But their competitors are now fast catching up.

The reason?

The innovation these companies are famous for has waned.

Apple launched the iPhone and instantly created a device that targeted just about everyone. In fact, Apple put usability at the forefront of their designs and reset consumer expectations about the complexity of smart phones. Indeed, the iPhone remains easy to use – contributing greatly to it’s cross-generational appeal.

Even babies seem to be able to master the iPhone, becoming expert swipers and touch-screen users…often before learning how to crawl. Designing a product that was so user-friendly, beautiful to hold, and cross functional created a seismic shift in the market.

In the last few months, however, I’ve observed another trend.

The same consumers that learnt from Apple that technology can be easy-to-use, and actually really useful, are now looking for an updated and better level of product. And they no longer feel that Apple is providing this.

Recent software updates (up to ios7 which launched today) have mainly been cosmetic changes, with the odd new feature that apps could already provide.

This thought really hit home in the last two weeks. Two regular clients who swore by iPhones for all their business requirements are now using Android devices. Having seen BlackBerry lose its entire enterprise market to iPhone, I believe the next shift has already happened.

Something similar is happening with Facebook, although the process is not yet as developed.

Facebook is now dropping new subscriber numbers for the first time ever and is struggling to keep people engaged. A huge proportion of people are now seen to use Facebook to ‘lurk’.

Although worrying, this is not all bad news for Facebook. As long as people are spending time on the social networking site then advertisers will continue to pay.

I don’t think there is another site ready to take over the mantle from Facebook. Twitter is dominating in its own right, but the micro-blogging service is a very different offering to Facebook. Google Plus has great functionality and some seriously good design features, however struggles with engagement (and what use is a social network if you can’t be social?).

Whilst I’m not suggesting either one of them is going to be out of business by the end of the year, I believe the warning signs are becoming increasingly evident.

And remember when (only ten years ago) Yahoo was the only search engine people used? We would ‘Ask Jeeves’ for everything!

The former is even seeing a resurgence at the moment. Certainly there is an interesting year or so ahead.