Facebook Begins Rolling Out The Ticker To More Users

Facebook has begun rolling out a news ticker on the right side of the homepage to a larger set of users.

Facebook Ticker IconWhile we haven’t confirmed whether or not the move is permanent, Facebook appears to be in the process of rolling out a live feed ticker to the homepage of all users.

What’s most significant is how this could impact the platform as we’re expecting this to become a communication channel for all applications.

The live ticker is a way of giving users access to real-time information while separating the main feed, the stories of which are now called highlights.

It’s an interesting format, but it’s slightly distracting as the real-time ticker follows you as you scroll down the page. Those users who enjoyed the real-time feed as their primary news source will be disappointed.

While the new feed is hard to adjust to, the ticker is an interesting feature with an interesting interface as well. As you scroll over various stories, they pop-over the main feed, making commenting possible.

The ticker first emerged in test format a few weeks ago, but the feature appears to be rolling out for more users.

I’m guessing that this is part of a much broader part of Facebook’s strategy to combat the increasing competition from Google Plus.

The current battle is over developers, many of which already have plenty of their own scars if they’ve been operating on the Facebook platform for the past four years.

Plea To Developers

Just last week Facebook announced adjustments to the patform that provide dramatic improvements for developers looking to obtain exposure.

Most significant is that users can now post on an unlimited number of friends’ walls through platform applications. Facebook realized that arbitrary limits weren’t useful for developers, but more transparent monitoring algorithms are. If developers abuse the newly opened channels, Facebook has made it pretty clear that apps could be shut down.

In order to prevent that from happening, Facebook stated, “We highly encourage limited use of this functionality and continued review of your app insights to ensure that users are responding positively to all Stream stories generated by your app.”

While Facebook hasn’t publicly stated that it feels threatened by Google, actions make things pretty clear. Facebook wants developers to continue building on the platform, and more importantly, those who have left, should also return.

While it’s only the beginning of Facebook’s latest efforts, I strongly believe that the new ticker feature will soon become an open channel for developers, partially, if not fully reviving the growth opportunity previously lost when Facebook pulled notifications from the platform last March (yeah, it has been a while).

With this channel, plus the highly buzzed HTML5 mobile platform expected to launch this year, Facebook hopes to provide a compelling offering to developers.

It’s the exact same audience that Google will begin lobbying to as it expands the Plus platform. Just today the company announced the hire of blogger Louis Gray as an evangelist”. My guess is that he’ll become part of that lobbying effort.

For social app developers, things couldn’t get much better. Facebook’s increasingly fearful of Google’s desire to do anything to be big in the online social market. Competition among platforms is good for developers and theoretically consumers as well. Now all we’ll need to wait and see is how long this new phase of opportunity lasts.