Facebook's Big Assumption: Almost Every Product Is Better When It's 'Social'

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"We think almost every product is better when you can experience it with the people you care about."

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Last week Facebook filed its first quarterly earnings report, and investors were disappointed. The company just isn't growing fast enough to support the hypothetical numbers analysts have in their spreadsheets to justify Facebook's share price. Mark Zuckerberg, presumably anticipating that reaction, baked in a response in his opening statement on his company's conference call with analysts. You've probably heard a variation of this before, but it's worth noting again (emphasis mine):

We believe one of the biggest opportunities we have is to create the identity and social layers that all new apps and websites can be built on top of. We think almost every product is better when you can experience it with the people you care about so over time we expect almost all of these products should naturally become social.

Whether or not you think almost every product -- TVs, cars, pets, refrigerators, running shoes -- is better when it's "social," will probably determine your gut feeling about Facebook's long-term prospects.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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