DIGITAL consumer expert Jeffrey Cole gives social networking giant Facebook five years before its audience begins to splinter. He said, “Facebook will be dead in next five years”.
Dr Cole, who predicted the decline of MySpace at an earlier appearance he made for Ninemsn in Sydney four years ago, said it would take longer for Facebook’s dominance to be challenged because of its global scale.
“The same thing will happen to Facebook but it’s going to take a lot longer,” Dr Cole said.
Dr Cole, who addressed a digital marketing forum hosted by Ninemsn in Sydney this morning, predicted the site would be no more successful than MySpace and Bebo at hanging onto the fickle teenage audience.
The social network, which yesterday announced it would launch an email service, has more than 500 million users worldwide.
“And it’s not going to be replaced by one big social networking community but it’s going to fragment.”
Dr Cole, who is the director of the Centre for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California and a director of the World Internet Project — which for a decade has tracked how the internet has affected people’s media consumption habits — also predicted few newspapers in the US would be around in five years’ time.
However he said one or two mastheads in each country would survive and become global news brands because, even among teens who did not read the printed product, there had been a flight to quality, reliable online news.
He said the iPad would prevail as the most popular tablet device because of the strength of the Apple brand, and he named its launch as a critical development for newspapers.
And he said he thought consumers would ultimately pay for content for some newspapers and magazines.
“We’re seeing iPads, we think, ultimately replacing the second screen (of the PC),” Dr Cole said.
“Newspapers and magazines were never going to prosper on the PC because they’re lean-back (media).
“I think (the iPad) is the most exciting development in the last 100 years for newspapers,” he said.
“It becomes a really viable medium.”