“Facebook is the anti-MySpace” and “Facebook is a new type of “Web 2.0″ portal” are some of the things that were and are being said yesterday and today about the social network’s new “Facebook Platform” initiative. Basically there’s no direct search angle here but it’s an interesting and potentially important development.
First, what is it exactly? Facebook has positioned itself to be a “platform” that third parties (content publishers, advertisers, individuals) can use to build applications within Facebook. What’s the appeal? Basically exposure and potential adoption by Facebook’s huge community of users.
A laundry list of almost 40 partners launched with the announcement yesterday. They included such diverse names as Jobster, Amazon, Microsoft, Slide, Veoh, Dogster, Washington Post, Forbes, SideStep, Glimpse and Feedburner, among others. I would imagine the list will grow very rapidly.
Without getting into the nuts and bolts, Facebook’s viral mechanisms represent an opportunity for rapid discovery of third-party applications in this new, parallel universe of content — I kept thinking about both eBay and AOL during the speech by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. However, the community is also a “filter” that will effectively be a barrier to anything that isn’t interesting or useful enough to gain adoption. There’s no push mechanism here (no direct outreach); it’s all pull and viral promotion. (There is a directory of applications.)
Slide CEO Max Levchin explicitly compared this move and the logic behind it to Microsoft and its developer community. And Microsoft itself is one of the partners through its Popfly initiative. Microsoft is also Facebook’s ad partner in the same way that Google is for MySpace.
Reportedly Facebook turned down a nearly $1 billion acquisition offer by Yahoo and continues to assert that it wants to remain independent. Didn’t we also hear that from YouTube?
For more coverage, see Techmeme.