Facebook held a press and developer event today to officially launch their Facebook Platform. CNN Money has a pretty decent summary of the implications. Supposedly, these are screenshots on SplashCast of some sample applications on the new platform.
Basically, imagine adding a social layer to any online experience in a way that makes it more useful or more enjoyable, since that layer is composed of people that you know and presumably trust more than some random stranger.
- Shopping – What laptops do the people in your social network own and recommend?
- Concert tickets – What concerts are your friends going to this weekend?
- News – What stories can you trust?
- Video – Not just watching funny monkeys, but actually using video to communicate with friends.
- Money – Negotiated lending and borrowing in your network.
By becoming the central social platform for using these services, Facebook places itself in a very powerful position. The key is that they aren’t just acting as some sort of portal for launching into online services. They are opening up access to developers to redefine these services with the addition of a social layer that will completely transform the experience. No longer will you have a series of fragmented social interactions with strangers as you buy a book on one site, tickets on another, and read product reviews on yet another. Your personal social network will be omnipresent and accessible through all of these experiences, much like real life.
If this succeeds, they will truly transform these services. Sure, each of these businesses could certainly add a social layer to the experience on their own site and many do. However, recreating or importing your social network over and over again rapidly becomes tiresome. By opening itself up as a real social software platform for developers, Facebook has dramatically increased its utility and appeal.