The Various Waves of Facebook Apps

Since the launch of the new Facebook platform a month ago, thousands of new applications have popped up. The majority of these applications have been extremely simple applications that will provide a short period of entertainment value. This is like when the internet first came about. Back when Geocities was popular I remember people (myself included) used to go grab random widgets from around the web such as small slot machines, blinking lights, page counters and all sorts of items that made your page look “cool.”

The same phenomenon is currently happening on Facebook. This is going to continue for a few months, but once users become used to the presence of applications we will see a slow down in the rapid adoption of applications that we are currently experiencing. The current environment is, as my uncle puts it, a new Oklahoma landgrab. As we all know, this can’t last forever. While there will be some big winners, this is not a good long-term strategy. In the short-term, it’s great if you are willing to gamble or have the development capacity to churn out new applications on a regular basis. There will be very few large companies that succeed with a strategy of building the initial applications. It is very similar to the first dot-com boom and investors are very weary this time around. Venture Beat has reported on recent acquisitions, and I myself know of others that I am not yet able to disclose (there will be more information coming soon). The most recent acquisition values each Facebook user 4.6 cents, only a fraction of the value of each user when MySpace was acquired.

The coming wave of Facebook includes robust applications that are highly scalable. These applications will be composed of many features and have more value than trivial personality quizzes or magic 8-balls. These applications will provide more interaction and have a greater community focus. The current wave will continue for a few more months but looks for truly valuable applications to appear in the near future. I have a feeling that applications such as the iLike music player are going to start facing heavier competition given that their existing feature set is relatively minimal.