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Facebook Thinks Big May 25, 2007

Posted by John in Technology.
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The buzz is huge after Facebooks event Thursday announcing the company´s transform from a pure social network to a technology platform where other companies and programmers can contribute features – and make money from it.

In short, Palo Alto-based Facebook with 23-year-old founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is thinking very big and mainly recieving applauds for it (allthough some analyst’s underline that there are risks to the move). Zuckerberg understands the power of social media and seem to have applied part of the philosophy of interacting and sharing to the world of business.

Here’s the story in short, according to Fortune’s David Kirkpatrick who published an interview with Zuckerberg yesterday: Facebook is taking its two major assets – its 24-million-members (growing at about 150,000 per day) and its strong technology underpinnings – and making them available to all comers.

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington, who blogged live from the event, writes that the third party applications include Microsoft, Amazon, Slide, RockYou, Box.net, Red Bull, Washington Post, Project Agape, Prosper, Snapvine, iLike, PicksPal, Digg, Plum and others.

A comprehensive guide to some of the applications can be found at Mashable.

Many other writers also blogged live from the event (see Techmeme for a full coverage), don’t miss thorough reports from for example Dan Farber at Between the Lines and Eric Eldon at VentureBeat. Here is Eldons summary: Zuckerberg said Facebook is encouraging developers to build applications to make money, both from advertisements and other transactions. Developers would do this from a “canvas” page given to developers to work on. Zuckerberg stressed two other themes, “deep integration,” and “mass distribution”.

So what are we seeing here? In essence a Harvard dropout thinking really big, embracing collaboration instead of competition. The move of course raises many questions about the future business model, security and spams for users and if the “new” Facebook really can compete with sites as Google.

But the trackrecord is rather impressing. Facebook, is the internet’s second-largest social network (after MySpace) and the sixth most trafficked site in the US. It was originally popular on college campuses, but over the last year it has opened up to all. It has 40 billion page views per month and predicts 50 million users for 2007.

Brad Stone, reporting for the New York Times, notes that the move could foster some of the chaotic creativity that is more closely associated with MySpace, its larger competitor. “It could also open the door to hazards like spam, and make Facebook’s identity less clear,” he notes.

“More ambitious than I was expecting,” Mathew Ingram, technology-writer with The Globe and Mail, concludes adding that Facebook will be the frame and the engine of the car and other companies will provide the radio and even the seats. “Whatever Facebook’s chances of success might be — and that is still a very big question mark — this move does one thing for sure: it reduces the odds that the social network will take after Friendster and suddenly flame out,” he writes.
One question for now: Will Google try to buy Facebook as it grows (Facebook is reported to have turned down Yahoo last year)? Stay tuned.

By Tina Magnergard Bjers and John Furrier

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