The future of social networking is coming into focus and it looks like Facebook-ish features will be increasingly be integrated into your everyday applications.
- Yahoo and Google are looking to integrate social networking into their email applications, reports Saul Hansell at the New York Times. Yahoo is ahead in this race because its email already allows you to IM, compile RSS feeds and send text messages. All it really needs is a universal profile and some contact RSS feeds and Yahoo Mail is social networking ready.
- Oracle is building social networking into its Fusion applications. Details are still sketchy, but Dan has noted that Fusion will be Web 2.0 friendly.
- Social networking features will be dropped into corporate applications to the point where they become commonplace. A company like Trampoline Systems is an early social networking mover in the enterprise, but it's not a reach to figure the startup will be acquired by a larger player someday. Social networking won't be a hot topic as much as its just something you do. Don't be surprised if social networking is built into Microsoft Outlook at some point in the future.
Connecting these dots makes me wonder what happens to businesses built solely on social networking. Will Facebook be so hip when the service is mimicked by every app you use? Perhaps social networking becomes the equivalent of a standalone word processing or spreadsheet company (they used to exist believe it or not).
Sure there will be social networking winners. Facebook isn't going anywhere, especially since it has Microsoft and a new ad system in its corner. The analogy here is Google. Most applications have search tools, but there's only one Google. Most applications will have social networking, but there will still be Facebook. However, you have to wonder what happens to these lesser known social networking players.
Increasingly, social networking is looking like a feature more than a business. There will be big ramifications to consider as social networking becomes integrated into your everyday applications.