Facebook developer Jesse Farmer has slurped the Developer Forums for the last 3 months and found some powerful trends: since January, posts per day are down 51%, and and the number of contributing developers is down 27%. In addition, Farmer has tracked daily active user levels for apps launched during that same time period, and the numbers correlate: the later apps have been launched, the lower daily activity levels have been. Farmer concludes that it’s getting harder to have success on the Facebook Platform, and developers are turning their interests elsewhere.
While it’s clear from Farmer’s numbers that developer activity peaked in January, the most important signals of the Facebook Platform economy are ultimately not forum posts but rather financials. As the initial wave of interest in the platform settles out and those working on cracking the monetization nut march on, the true test of the viability of the Facebook Platform is whether a substantial number of entrepreneurs will be able to establish successful businesses that can weather ongoing changes in platform conditions.
The good news for developers is that as social networks compete for developer attention, they will have to prove that the economic health of their developer community is strong. That game is still very early.