I see Facebook as a game-changing company. My hypothesis on social networks following the Facebook model are in a race against time. Some have great early leads in that race, such a StudiVZ, but Facebook is a natural monopoly and will eventually attain the global social graph.
vkontakte.ru may be the case to disprove my theory. It is a relative newcomer, i.e. Facebook had opened up its email address restrictions by the time vkontakte had achieved critical mass. Yet, it continues to accelerate its growth.
Through my experience with Mondus.net, I am a first-hand witness to how social networks grow. I will continue watching vkontakte.ru. This may really be a strong evidence that it’s the seed populations that determine growth patterns in social networks, making it extremely difficult to foresee or plan. Or, it may be proof that Russia is an extraordinary market, supported by the fact that, as Aydin points out:
Russia is the country in Europe with the lowest market share for Google at 32%
(versus Portugal’s 94%) and its top 3 sites are all homegrown: Yandex,
Mail.ru and Rambler. Facebook might find itself fighting an equally
uphill battle in this important BRIC internet market.