Wednesday, May 30, 2007

F8, the Facebook Platform

I know this blog has been silent for the past month now, and I apologize. Finals came and went, and I'm now back home in the Valley.

This post is going to be short, and probably not even very sweet, but I had to put something up about Facebook's new platform because it's so, so cool. More accurately, it shows that Facebook really gets it. The company understands the tech world, the power of third party developers, and, above all, that the best way to increase revenue is to grow the pie rather than the company's slice.

The platform has been compared to a variety of other product launches in tech history, but the one that comes to my mind - Windows - hasn't been mentioned much. I wrote a few months ago about how I believed MySpace was in trouble with their fluctuating stance on widgets. Well, Facebook's move could very well go down as the nail in the coffin.

The parallels to Windows (and the OS wars) are eerie. The most obvious is that, just as Microsoft did, Facebook is allowing developers to keep 100% of the revenue that third party Facebook applications generate. That alone is huge - instead of worrying whether you're going to be shut down (like widgets do on MySpace), you're sure that you'll profit off whatever value you create.

Facebook is striving to create an open and level playing field for application developers, and the platform is a monumental step in that direction. It'll be interesting to see which applications make the biggest splash...


  1. I'm not sure that I agree with you that Facebook opening its platform is a good thing. It's definitely a very exciting development, but in my mind takes away some of the appeal from Facebook. Facebook's appeal to me over Myspace has always been the very simple, clean, uncluttered design. The fact that people were not allowed to add their crappy music or their pictures of themselves and friends making the smoochy face to the profile gave Facebook class.

    Have you seen what's happened since? While things are definitely still better than Myspace, profiles have definitely become much more cluttered, and much uglier. Have you seen some of the atrocities people are posting with Graffiti?

    If they let the applications go too far, I think Facebook risks losing many of their users, even if the ones that remain spend more time on the site.

    The Microsoft comparison is good, but remember that with Windows, at that time the operating system was the user's ENTIRE computing experience. Everything ran through Windows and so having it be as extensible and customizable was a good thing. Facebook, no matter how many fun apps are developed will never be the user's entire Internet experience. It should instead focus on doing the one thing it does best, best.

  2. cannot agree more with facebook... while it is great from a facebook point of view (becomes de facto social networking site because of open API) it is definitely doing waht albert said:

    making it a mess - no more clean, simple and fast loading profiles of friends as they load every single app available... eck

    and what about the private info... i am not one of these privacy hacks... i have nothing to hide, but i dont want an unvetted person having my personal info for two reasons:
    1. they should pay me for it, because their app isnt good enough for the value they are getting
    2. and who are they selling this info to?

    the naivety on the net is really quite astounding


  3. totally with Ravi on this -- the developer platform is a leap in the right direction. although somewhat cluttered now, facebook is the first application to really allow companies to directly target literally millions of users through an interactive portal. facebook allows developers to leverage a community of internet users to the developers' and facebook's benefits.

    this is what justifies facebook's billion dollar valuation!

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