Why Facebook won't steal your App

Building a successful Facebook App is tough enough without having to worry about plagiarism and idea theft. Indeed, it is not unreasonable to consider why any sufficiently successful application would not simply be amalgamated by Facebook. A brief exploration of the business mechanics behind Facebook, however, put these fears largely to rest.

The Facebook business model is neither new nor particularly complicated: generate as many users as possible and keep them engaged. Revenue comes primarily from local and online advertising, which appears at the lower left and bottom sections of the pages. The bulk of Facebook’s expenses come from development and hosting costs.

This is why the opening up the Facebook Platform works so well for Facebook. On one hand, third-party applications make Facebook more useful, keeping users spending more time and becoming more dependent on Facebook for all sorts of needs. On the other hand, an additional third party application costs next to nothing to produce, considering that the bulk of the original investment, developing the platform, was largely a one-time expense. Furthermore, third-party apps have to be hosted externally, saving Facebook relatively considerable hosting costs, especially with rich-media applications.

For this reason Facebook is highly unlikely to copy a third party application. Why pay for internal development and hosting when the same advertising revenue can be generated for you by somebody else, gratis?

The one concern here lies with Applications which stand directly in the way of Facebook’s future expansion plans, such as its rumored email system or a Web OS. In this way Facebook is like a charging elephant — as long as you don’t get in its way, you’re more than welcome to come along for the ride.

Alexey Komissarouk is a Technology and Business Consultant who has literally months of experience with the Facebook F8 Platform. He is available at AlexeyMK[at]gmail.com