Facebook Turns Nine, But Will it Live to See 10?

On February 4, 2004 — nine years ago today — Facebook launched.

Happy birthday, Facebook. You’ve really grown up. Heck, you’ve almost hit double-digits.

You probably know the story, or at least the Hollywood version of the story, of how Mark Zuckerberg and a few of his Harvard classmates created the site that would go on to become perhaps the most important in the history of the Internet.

It was originally TheFacebook.com and only open to Harvard students. Soon, it spread to other colleges and then to high-schoolers and, finally, to the general public. Today, the  majority of Facebookers are located outside the United States. Heck, there’s a very good chance your grandma has a log in for Facebook. Both of mine do.

Though Facebook’s user base continues to grow, there are rumors that the growth is slowing down and that some of the site’s most important users — the youth — are beginning to abandon Facebook for “cooler” social networking sites like Tumblr and Instagram (the latter of which Facebook bought for a reported $1 billion, perhaps out of fear).

Facebook’s stock has performed below expectations in recent months and Zuckerberg and company haven’t introduced any killer features in a long time — does anyone really care about Timeline or the horribly named Graph Search?

I’m definitely not ready to abandon my Facebook account, but I find myself less and less drawn to the once engaging Facebook homepage. A big part of that is because most of my more interesting and technologically savvy friends are spending less time there.

2013 projects to be a very important year for Facebook. Can the company make the major push it seems eager to make and become a true competitor for tech titans like Apple and Google? If so, that probably means we’re finally going to see the long-rumored Facebook Phone (which Zuckerberg insists is not coming). Or, will it unveil another series of underwhelming features and continue to bleed users?

As we all saw when Myspace died (and then failed to return to prominence, despite several high-profile relaunch attempts), web users are fickle and sites that don’t stay at the cutting edge soon become totally irrelevant.

Facebook will turn 10 in a year. Whether anyone will care remains to be seen.

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