A More Mature Facebook

Today’s f8 was one marked by hype, speculation and confirmation of news which had been written about for the past few weeks. Just over one year ago Facebook announced their platform and today they announced that they are extending it to the web. Last year there weren’t as many attendees at f8 and there wasn’t a mini-industry of companies vying for attendees’ attention. It was a bunch of people that took a risk and decided to launch applications and try to build businesses.

It was the event which inspired me to launch this blog and while I wasn’t at the first one, I think a little piece of all of us covering the space hoped that something big would come out of f8 today. By no means is it right to downplay the changes that have been made. For the first time we saw the potential of applications that truly benefit the users. Visual Bookshelf was demoed with some great capabilities including the ability to interact with an application on a user’s profile without having to add the application.

We also saw samples of Facebook Connect in action. Will other sites embrace the new service? Potentially, but now it is completely left to the market to decide the fate of Connect and competing offerings. The crazy entrepreneurs that set up businesses just over one year ago continue to push forward with building out their businesses. What their businesses are in the long-term isn’t really known but they will continue to push on.

At f8 you have everybody from individual developers to sizable businesses with large coffers stuffed by venture capitalists. There were small developers that have been pushed to the limits on resources and the reality is beginning to set in that they are locked into the Facebook platform. While the next shiny object (the iPhone) is gaining their attention, it is unfortunately out of reach for many. This year around there are even mature businesses that have been in the internet space for years but are just now entering the Facebook market.

Developers and entrepreneurs came from around the globe to hear what revolutionary new product or service Mark Zuckerberg would be announcing. Unfortunately this time around it wasn’t a new platform that’s ready for launch, providing new businesses with millions of new users. Instead we found a more cautious and more wise company that is now focused on improving the overall experience for users. For many of us (myself included), I think that the reality set in that you can’t revolutionize industries once a year.

It takes time to build businesses and while starting is quick, expanding is not as easy and takes a lot of hard work. Even for Facebook it sounds like they aren’t sure what the future holds. From the tone of Mark Zuckerberg after the keynote, the payment system appears anything but certain. I can understand their concern. Does Facebook want to have a payment system which is simply used to build a virtual gifts economy?

There are a lot of uncertainties and complete unknowns at this point. One thing is clear though: most of the people at f8 today are along for the ride and the ride is not going to be a short one.

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