Can Developers Be Frenemies With Facebook?

Does iPad app launch spell disaster for 'Friendly' developer

When news leaked recently about Facebook’s plans to launch an official iPad app, it looked like bad tidings for startup Oecoway and its popular Friendly for Facebook.

True, the startup (which claimed 3 million active monthly users in April) probably benefited from the fact that Facebook hadn’t offered a great iPad experience. But Oecoway co-founder Cyril Moutran believes he and his team will survive even as that official competition is about to arrive.

The key, he says, is to avoid going head-to-head against Facebook. Instead, Oecoway will target its features at a smaller-but-still-sizable audience that has bigger needs than the average Facebook user. For example, Friendly includes tools for companies to manage their fan pages.

But is a possible acquisition by Facebook over? That seems likely, given Facebook’s current preference for “talent acquisitions” (buys a startup for its executives and engineers, but kills the product). Moutran says they’ve never sought a fast cash out, but instead hope that when the Facebook app hits, their loyal users will remember one thing: “We served them when nobody else would.”