Both Melissa Fach and I have discussed Facebook’s plan to promote in-depth articles in an effort to draw from Twitter and become a breaking news source. Facebook has been trying to sink its teeth into almost any new venture to continue growing its monopoly. But it’s not the only one, several other social networks and apps have been trying to expand their reach into different industries. The two most noticeable are music streaming and restaurant reviews.
Face the Music
Twitter launched its #Music app earlier this year to tap into the online radio market and quietly closed it down after six months. Apple launched iTunes radio with its iOS7 update, which has yet to make waves in the market share.
YouTube has also been trying to create a music streaming service and is arguably in the best position to do so. This is because A. people already go to YouTube to listen to music and B. YouTube is a vortex where people spend hours discovering new content, music, and cat videos.
The core of a successful music streaming service is the ability to get whatever music you want, whenever you want. YouTube has that, for free, without needing to sign up, and without any listening caps. And yet, they want to launch a paid service.
All Things D reports that YouTube pushed back the launch to early 2014. They have the necessary licenses; they’re just putting the finishing touches on their system and product. All Things D also pointed out that this is the second music service under Google’s wing, along with the one in Google Play.
Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
Yelp and UrbanSpoon are two of the most popular restaurant and venue review sites, which means they constantly have to defend their turf. Google has been trying to chip away at their users by incorporating review and rating systems to its Maps service. Facebook has been trying to promote its five-star rating system, and Foursquare has been trying to evolve out of its geo-location rut into a recommendations app.
Most of these sites already have a piece of the puzzle (a large userbase, brand pages) and they’re trying to use their empire and expand their use. For example, more than 58 million people use Google Maps monthly. That’s a huge base of potential reviews. If people started reviewing locations they visit then they could have a reliable review base overnight.
Innovation or Manifest Destiny?
Are these attempts to expand the natural evolution of websites, or are the companies just trying to get their fingers in as many pies as possible?
Some of the updates – like Facebook’s favoring of news stories – are directly meant to pull from their competition. iTunes Radio isn’t much of a threat, but Google is still better off crushing it with Google Play and YouTube. As Foursqaure tries to enter the online review market to compete with Yelp, Yelp steps up their check-in game to pull from Foursquare. More often than not, this isn’t innovation or company growth, it’s Internet Imperialism. This is why we end up with weird new products like Twitter #Music, Twitter built it out to make sure it didn’t get left behind.
Will these companies settle back down into their niches or will a select few become dominate in multiple industries while others get left behind? Look into your magic crystal ball, what does the Internet look like in 10 years?