Live: Bebo Launching Platform Tonight, Adopts Facebook Platform APIs; Facebook opening Platform architecture

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bebo_logo.jpgI’m here at the Bebo Platform launch event at the Metreon in San Francisco. Bebo CEO is Michael Birch is presenting the Platform details:

  • We’ve always wanted to be open, but when Facebook launched their Platform earlier this year, it was quite comprehensive and similar to what we wanted to do. We don’t want to launch another platform, it just becomes a format war and a pain in the butt for everyone. The Bebo Platform is almost totally compatible with the Facebook Platform: the APIs, markup language, and query language are all the same.
  • The Platform is launching tonight with 40 application developer partners.
  • There is an application directory under the Explore menu. Users can rate apps there, unlike elsewhere.
  • Justin’s note: the My Applications menu sits across the top of the site in the form of thumbnail icons. Very prominent.
  • We’re adding a new viral channel for app developers – app profile pages can be skinned by users.
  • We have partnerships with media companies to let users get content. We’re going to let application developers use that content too. It’s important to us that application developers and media companies make money off of social networks.

Bebo is bringing up a few application developers to demo their apps:

  • Sap from NBC Universal: “We want to extend users’ experiences outside the show. We are fans of social networks like Bebo. We have a couple of applications that are new for the Bebo Platform.”
  • Craig Sherman from Gaia Online: “We are excited to work with Bebo. Our app creates a virtual room on every user’s profile page. We’ll host thousands of simultaneous profile page virtual spaces.”
  • Joe Greenstein from Flixster: “Prior to today we’ve had 2 products: our destination site and our Facebook application Flixster. Like on Facebook, we can build a really full movie website within Bebo.”

Bebo CEO Michael Birch is going to take questions:

  • “What about OpenSocial?” Clearly the Facebook Platform is different than Open Social. We attend the Open Social meetings. We’ll start development early next year. We want to give developers the choice to develop on the Facebook Platform or OpenSocial on Bebo.
  • “How big are you in the US?” We’re the third largest network in the US. We need to narrow the gap with Facebook and MySpace. We’re trying to combine the best of them.
  • “Are you working with Facebook?” Yes, they know what we’re doing. We want to remain compatible with them and be in conversations with them so that we launch features at the same time. We’re where they were about six weeks ago right now.
  • “What about Beacon?” We’re not planning on doing Beacon at the moment. We’ll wait until they figure it out and do whatever they do :)

Update 1: I just spoke with Jessica Alter, who manages BD for the Bebo Platform. She has some important details for Facebook app developers:

  • Bebo and Facebook are working together. We’re going to do our best to keep things as compatible as possible for developers. However, it will be an 80/20 thing. We want to do most of the same things with our platforms.
  • We will have invitations, notifications, and an activity stream. All the important viral channels on Facebook will exist on Bebo.
  • In addition, we’re going to add auto-play on profile pages, which we hope will help with virality.
  • We want to build a community around our app directory and app ratings. We want to help you find apps that your friends like.
  • We don’t think about our content efforts and platform efforts as totally distinct. We want to do more to bring them together over the coming year.

Update 2: I also just spoke with Ami Vora, Facebook’s Platform product manager. She just posted on Facebook’s blog that Facebook is opening up the Facebook Platform architecture:

We’ve seen a great response from both our developers and our users [since launching the Facebook Platform in May 2007], and we’ve certainly learned a lot as we’ve worked on our platform over the past year and a half.

Now we also want to share the benefits of our work by enabling other social sites to use our platform architecture as a model. In fact, we’ll even license the Facebook Platform methods and tags to other platforms. Of course, Facebook Platform will continue to evolve, but by enabling other social sites to use what we’ve learned, everyone wins — users get a better experience around the web, developers get access to new audiences, and social sites get more applications.

This is just another step toward the vision of easy, open sharing of information. We look forward to supporting other social sites as they release their own platforms, and look forward most of all to the added benefit for developers and users.

Ami said Facebook is working with Bebo to make things as simple as possible for developers. As always, the devil is in the details…

Update 3: While the Bebo Open Application Platform is now live, Bebo says the sandbox will open to all developers next week.