Techcrunch has an interesting article posing the question "Could Facebook Become the Next Microsoft?". The article notes several similarities between the early days of Microsoft and where Facebook is today. Facebook is being adopted by the masses, many of whom are not "traditional" users of Web 2.0 or social networking sites (grandparents, digital immigrants, companies etc.), similar to Microsoft's initial growth.
The addition of third-party applications to the Facebook interface has greatly expanded and enhanced the use of Facebook, far beyond it's social aspects - it can do just about anything - limited only by it's users' imaginations. As it grows, Facebook is effectively becoming a Web OS - I know that I spend a lot of time on Facebook doing tasks that at one time I used other tools - e-mail, chat, etc. If Facebook becomes the number one destination on the Web, what are the implications for other Web 2.0 sites (ask DOS and WordPerfect that question in relation to Microsoft...). Will Facebook do the social Web what Microsoft Windows did to its competition? Right now we ave lots of Web 2.0 choices on the Web - but will they or can they last against the tidal wave that is Facebook?
The article goes on to compare Facebook with Google and right now give the advantage to Facebook for having better "glue", linking all of its offerings together.
There is a cautionary tale though - Facebook is a closed environment right now (Microsoft Windows anyone?), and could that lack of openness eventually lead to its downfall in the worlds of Web 3.0, 4.0,5.0, and beyond? Hmmm...
(Image from Facebook)