Sunday, October 07, 2007
Social Networking: the facebook mashup effect
I'm a recent facebook user. I knew about facebook for quite a while but I thought, as probably most of you, that it was a youngster phenomena. I'm no longer a youngster if anyone in doubt out there ;-) . This comes as no surprise as Facebook was created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Harvard graduate, and restricted at first to Harvard College students, then to other Boston area schools. More details on Facebook history here. On May 24, 2007, Facebook launched an API that allows the development of applications to be used on the site, known as Facebook Platform. A defining moment that illustrated one more time this web 2.0 postulate that the web is now an application platform.
When inviting some of my friends to facebook, I sometime needs to explain to the most reluctant among them why this social network site is THE one. I think this ability to mashup tens if not hundreds of cool applications to leverage your friends network is sticky. It gives your facebook a constantly evolving face, a user interface typically webtop where users do refine it as they use it -- see We're moving from Desktop to Webtop. The real-time informations about your friends (mood, networks, events, ...) gives it another reason for it to be addictive. Some of them even joined a group called "I facebook too much" demonstrating the addiction.
As you can see in the Alexa graph, Facebook is on its way in 2007 to surpass the MySpace phenomena. More than the success of social networking as one of the Web 2.0 killing applications, I see it as a clear indication that mashups and webtop will prevail in the future. Fellow software vendors, take it as a home run. Enterprise 2.0 software should take this into account as well, as it will not remain a consumer phenomena. Large corporations do need social networking. In the coming months, we should see tremendous repositioning around this and some of the software vendors could just enter obsolescence allowing for a new software leaders generation. Beware!