TECH TALK: Facebook: The Platform (Part 2)

Splashcast Media, one of the companies creating applications for Facebook, had this to say about the platform: Facebook is announcing the opening of what its calling The Platform a system for 3rd party companies to program their services for use inside of Facebook user pages. As part of the announcement, about 30 preselected companies that have integrated with The Platform ahead of time are being showcased to demonstrate what kinds of things are being made possible. This goes beyond the ability to post media from outside into Facebook and it goes beyond the previous Facebook API (also called The Platform) – outside companies are now being allowed to deploy advanced functionality inside the Facebook site…Some monetization in Facebook will be permitted, so long as its not done on the same pages where Microsoft ads are being run. More may be possible in the future. That is a remarkable differentiator compared to other, similar websites that maintain tight control over monetization in their ecosystems. This is one of the big unknowns in regards to Facebook opening up but there is every indication that this will be a real game changer. When companies cant monetize their presence in larger ecosystems, then innovation becomes far less affordable. If Facebook does allow meaningful monetization to occur, they could serve as a lifeline to hundreds of small companies that will then take risks, develop innovative new products and change the face of the web.

Fortune added:

From here on it will be wide open. Anyone will have access to Facebook’s so-called “markup language,” which is intended to be usable even by those with rudimentary programming skills. So kids in dorm rooms will be able to create simple applications to coordinate TV-watching or trips to the cafeteria with their friends. And some creative amateur coders are likely to come up with amazing new things to do inside Facebook. Companies, too, will find many ways that Facebook applications can improve productivity and collaboration.

The company will impose no limitations on what kinds of applications others can create, except that they be legal. Says Zuckerberg: “They can sell sponsorships, they can have ads, they can sell things, they can link off to another site – we are just agnostic.” He promises that Facebook will not give its own applications any special privileges or exclusive access to its members.

TechCrunch thinks of Facebook’s approach as the opposite of MySpace: The payoff is two way. Not only do developers get deep access to Facebooks twenty million users, Facebook also becomes a rich platform for third party applications…Facebooks strategy is almost the polar opposite from MySpace. While MySpace frets over third party widgets, alternatively shutting them down or acquiring them, Facebook is now opening up its core functions to all outside developers.

GigaOM had this to say: This move is more than catching up with MySpace and Bebo and what have you by adding outside widgets; Facebook has become a primary relationship and identity broker for millions of people. Now outsiders can capitalize on that information in a safe way, pulling from users expressed interests in their profiles, building on their stated intention to attend events, or simply giving them more dedicated tools for expressing themselves. The outside apps will be woven into a structure thats already been built and is utilized every day…Admittedly, there is some reinventing the wheel going on. Wasnt the browser declared to be the new OS just, like, two years ago?

Tomorrow: The Early Days

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.