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Could Facebook spiral out of control? If so do you want it on your TV?

With the news, true or not, that Facebook has lost users in the US, down 6 million according to website Facebook Gold, people are asking has its time

By PETER WHITE

Published: 16 June, 2011

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With the news, true or not, that Facebook has lost users in the US, down 6 million according to website Facebook Gold, people are asking has its time come and gone? The first question the TV industry has to ask is whether or not it has overdone Facebook integration on the current generation of TV sets. If it has, the outlook is chilling, because what does it replace it with?

However at the current rates of decline in the US it would take two and a half years before everyone has left Facebook and anyway it is still growing elsewhere. It is probably more important for the Smart TV industry to work out where all of the leavers are going for online social interaction, and get there ahead of the bulk of them. Perhaps it’s Twitter, it’s certainly not MySpace.

For those of you who don’t use these networks regularly there are a variety of reasons for the fall being suggested - most of which amount to Facebook Fatigue, and is summed up by older people just spending less time on Facebook and the next generation not embracing it quite so feverishly.

Inside Facebook gets its figures from the advertising system on Facebook and said that during May Facebook in the US lost about 5.8 million users, down from 155.2 million at the start of May to just 149.4 million at the end of it. This is the first time for a year that Facebook US has lost users.

It wouldn’t be so bad if this was simply a case of one country losing out, but this is the country of origin and additionally Canada dropped by 1.52 million, a fall of 8.4% to 16.6 million and countries in Europe such as the UK, Norway and Russia have also lost over 100,000 each – sure it’s a drop in the ocean, but it is a consistent drop which might get bigger.

Overall last month Facebook has grown 1.7% in user numbers up to 687 million during May, with Mexico, India and Brazil showing the biggest growth percentages at 7.6%, 10% and 6.7% respectively. But it is the established Western countries which lead the trends, and right now they are collectively negative. All of which will have a direct bearing on the bid by Facebook to go public, with it aiming for a valuation of $100 billion. There has to be an IPO under SEC rules because it has to have a public share price when a company has over 500 investors, which Facebook now has.

After the fall of MySpace, mostly because it became too commercial too rapidly under the hand of News Corp, Facebook rose and fitted right in with the smartphone generation. There needs to be a dominant social network, but might it end up being a new network? Certainly after this news some major operators will be tempted to try to push their own social networks or partner with someone other than Facebook.

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