Five years on, what's Facebook's future?

So how can Facebook ensure it stays at the top of its game – and ahead of competitors? "It will be interesting to see how Bebo's new build will impact Facebook. Bebo will allow users to aggregate their social networks in one place and follow the Facebook 'newsfeed' model," observes Cushman.

"But Facebook has a real march on the rest in a key area - widget marketing. It's the place to release your apps and apps will play a greater and greater part in peer-to-peer communication strategies of all kinds."

Short term fad?

Surely there's still a danger that Facebook will prove to be a short term fad? "On a consumer level, the herd mentality will continually drive people from one network to another in search of the next big thing," says Tarnowski.

Carlson believes people will, in time, be turned off by the breadth of Facebook. "In future I think we'll see the much-vaunted 'rise of the niche' as people find the sheer breadth of Facebook less useful or relevant.

"Instead they'll turn to networks where they can more easily connect with people with similar interests."

Glen Murra of NeuStar agrees, but says that users still need to aggregate, something Facebook does well.

"What we're seeing is that social network users want to access and edit information and communicate from all of their social networks, instant messaging communities and other communications on their mobile handset."

"While undoubtedly here to stay, Facebook has a number of challenges coming up," adds Tarnowski. "It adequately bridges the gap between the needs of consumers and companies, but niche players offering a tightly targeted service will be able to provide better solutions for certain sectors.

"If the business can continue to innovate, while staying true to the needs of its user base and in line with relevant market developments, I think we'll be raising a toast to them for many years to come."


Now read Top 15 things you should never do on Facebook

Sign up for the free weekly TechRadar newsletter
Get tech news delivered straight to your inbox. Register for the free TechRadar newsletter and stay on top of the week's biggest stories and product releases. Sign up at

Follow TechRadar on Twitter


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.