As you've likely heard, Facebook now has 1 billion users. Now the countdown to 2 billion can begin, but when could the social network reach that number? According to the chief technology officer of The Huffington Post, Facebook could double its membership in two years.
John Pavley thinks Facebook can get to 2 billion by just 2014. However, the significant growth will also be the site's death knell. He notes that Facebook isn't too big to fail:
The problem is the diminishing value that each new user adds to the Facebook business model. In the run-up to 2 billion, Facebook hopes that each new user will bring in more value than the previous user. But Facebook doesn't know this for sure, as it already has more users than it can count. As (Co-Founder and CEO) Mark (Zuckerberg) admitted last week, Facebook estimates that it has 1 billion users, but even this number is uncertain because it's too much data to manage.
Our brains are geared to deal with human-scale problems. We can't count to 1 billion. A computer can count to 1 billion, but computers are only as smart (or dumb) as the humans who program them. If I can't properly account for and understand my 1 billionth user, then that user is worth less to me than my 1 millionth user. Instead of knowing my users, I can only guess, or estimate, with less and less accuracy, who my users are and what they need. My 1 million valuable users get lost in the noise of the average 1 billion users.
It's the Law of Diminishing Returns in effect.