Tag Archives: Facebook


Facebook Open Stream Apps

Facebook Open Stream APIFurther to my post yesterday, I thought I’d dig a little deeper into some of the applications taking advantage of the new Facebook Open Stream API (announced on Monday).

This video from CNET is a wonderful demonstration from Microsoft’s Brian Goldfarb where he shows two Open Stream enabled applications. The first, a Silverlight app allows beautiful interaction with a friend’s stream, especially their photos. The speed and UX is impressive. Even more so when noting it was put together in under 72 hours. Brian notes that the applications and their source code will be made available in the next few weeks. Also check out the Silverlight blog for more details.

The second app from Brian is a WPF app that allows rich interaction via the meta data that accompanies the steam. Using links between friends and photos, users can visualise their relationships in news ways. Very impressive.

Microsoft shows off Facebook Open Stream API demos from Rafe Needleman on Vimeo.

(via Neowin)

Facebook, data and privacy

Facebook Open Stream APIIt’s early in the backlash cycle as people come to terms with what Facebook is and isn’t providing via its Open Stream API (and developer Wiki). Check out Xobni and Seesmic for details on some of the early examples of how it can be implemented.

ReadWriteWeb however offers a slight lament at how limited the data reach is, and overall Marshall’s post is spot on (IMO). Make sure you read the comments (especially comment 21 which captures the correct attitude pretty well I think).

The debate is mostly around privacy (as it should be) and how much Facebook is honouring privacy, contrasted with whether Facebook users actually understand the privacy terms. Scoble brings monetization into the discussion also. It’s a tricky situation.

The issue for me however is a much longer term one. It’s about credibility. Whilst I agree we are on a juggernaut of openness at the moment, and network after network is clamouring to open up its data, I think the tide is starting to turn. Our brazen flaunting of any need for privacy is starting to change. The pendulum will start swinging back – I’m predicting within the next 12 months – and when it does we’ll see services like Twitter, FriendFeed and the multitude of others come under close scrutiny as to what they provide access to. Watch then as they compete with each other to put the brakes on…

Amidst this, Facebook – if they hold true to their current stance – with be heralded as being reliable and trustworthy. They tread carefully. Credibility will count for much soon, and instead of rushing to ease access to data, companies need to be ensuring they have people’s real interests at heart.

Currently we all think its fine to have our personal information out there for everyone else to consume. But I’m starting to see signs that this casual approach is losing its appeal. The smart social networking companies will be thinking very carefully about how they match openness with privacy. I believe Facebook is one such company.

Welcome to the end of free

YouTube needs to make some moneyTo be profitable, OR not to be – that is the question.

The latest YouTube expenses news shouldn’t really come as a surprise. The price of enormous popularity is often high, and if the business model isn’t clear, then profits might not be in tandem.

YouTube expense estimations have emerged from Credit Suisse, and they aren’t pretty. YouTube is looking like making $120M – $500M in revenue this year. But the expenses are likely to be north of that in the $700M+ realm. That’s a significant loss.

Note however, that I wouldn’t be placing too much stock in the Credit Suisse numbers, I suspect they are calculated on face-value user numbers, and don’t take into account the different technologies YouTube uses for distribution…

In any case the principle remains: Popularity != Profitability (necessarily)

Facebook has had similar growth problems, with huge infrastructure costs ensuring that it is unlikely to turn a profit any time soon.

But for how long?

Although a distant memory for many, the 2000 dot com crash may repeat itself in some respects. Once that crash was over, the main thing I remember was that all the free stuff disappeared. Only those businesses with a solid monetization model survived. You can expect the same thing for Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in the coming 12-18 months. There’s only so long investor capital can extend (granted Google probably has deeper pockets than most), and soon enough the free stuff will go.

Part of the problem is in trying to ensure you’re the ‘last man standing’. Thus, YouTube will maintain free (probably via yet another ad-on-video overlay strategy) for as long as possible until competitors such as Vimeo, Hulu, Viddler and others are all but gone, and then put the screws on. Facebook will also be trying weird and wacky things in an effort to stem the losses.

In other networks, you can expect photo-sharing sites (Flickr, etc), music sites, career networking sites, etc to be similarly inclined  with the free accounts becoming progressively reduced in functionality, and the premium services featured more prevalently.

But this is a good thing

There’s a number of good things that will come of this.

  • For starters, the number of social networks will be reduced as consolidation takes effect. Currently there are simply far to many social networks. We need some order amongst the chaos.
  • Next, we’ll see the rise of non-ad related functionality, and perhaps more importantly, a change in user behaviour to actually value paid memberships.
  • Finally though, it will mark the end of the fly-by-night marketing types who have started polluting the social media stage due to its low cost of entry.

Bring it on.

Facebook and Flash

Facebook and AdobeHot on the heels of the MySpace and Silverlight partnership, comes Facebook’s partnership with Adobe (via TechCrunch).

Called the ‘ActionScript 3.0 Client Library for Facebook Platform’ (and I thought Microsoft had boring names!), the API allows developers to build applications that connect the social aspects of Facebook into the Flash interface.

Its important to note that these applications (or ‘rich Flash experiences’ as the site refers to them) can be in Facebook applications, as well as desktop applications. Yes, don’t miss that last part – desktop apps (see here for more details on the Adobe DevNet). Facebook is about to jump out of the browser in a very meaningful way, as opposed to just the minimal interaction that some of the existing desktop apps allow you to update (eg status).

This is a significant announcement, and one that opens up a number of opportunities.

In some ways the concept isn’t new, since the ability to mix Flash and Facebook has been available for a while. What is different is that it is now getting official support and will be actively encouraged by both companies (as well as having a ton of new functionality in this release).

Here’s the line from the Facebook developer page:

With Flash and Facebook, you can extend rich Internet experiences across the Web to become social. New ideas may include the next generation of social games, seeing friends sharing and commenting on video or music streamed through Flash, or manipulating photos of yourself and your friends.

The ActionScript 3.0 Client Library for Facebook Platform API is available for download here.

Twitter Statistics

Apparently Twitter is getting popular You’ll be shocked (NOT!) to learn that Twitter is growing at a massive rate. Stats last month put the growth at over 1300% for February (compared to a year earlier). You can read all the latest numbers over on the Nielsen site (which I came across via the TwistImage blog). For me the two most interesting details were these:

  • 42% of the Twitter audience is in the 35-49 age bracket
  • Over 10% of visitors were via mobile

Having such a large mobile audience is not surprising, but will have the interesting effect of pushing mobile social networking engagement into the mainstream.

BTW, you can follow me on Twitter here.

[Facebook by comparison had a 220% growth over the same period (but obviously is a much bigger audience).]