How many social networks do you need?

“Hey, communities are en vogue! Let”™s build one!”

I have heard this sentence over and over again in the last months. Sorry guys, it”™s too late. There is no use in a third student network or a 12th yellow pages website. In the good old times, when we still used phonebooks, yes, these things with paper, have you ever thought about putting your number and address to a second or third one? Even in most niche markets, there are already established special interest communities.

Today”™s Internet in most cases is a “winner takes all” competition environment, especially in areas, where shire size matters or creating a standard. The struggle between HD-DVD and Blueray as the successor of the DVD is a perfect example for that! No one wants an email address that only works with Outlook or Notes. Sooner or later one will die!
StudiVZ, the German Facebook clone, was a clever StartUp. It filled a gap, since facebook was not available in German language and had no German university catalogue. Those guys did a good job and timed their exit perfectly.

Today Facebook is international (also German) and open for applications, what StudiVZ is not. I believe that StudiVZ is facing a “killer use case”. One that origins from a special species of users: The evil “exchange students”. Those people travel across borders and study in foreign countries. For example a Korean student comes to Germany and wants to keep in touch with his new friends or the German guy, who goes to California and so on. Regional and isolated networks simply don”™t work for them.
I believe that sooner or later this effect will drain the active and international users off national networks.

As an effect of natural laziness, users look for a single point of contact for a use case. The “keep contact with friends” case is on Facebook, the one for business contacts is on LinkedIn. Period!

There really is no need for a third, fourth or fifth community. Let”™s see who will be winner who takes it all! Wanna bet? :-)

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