It’s the Facebook Platform’s 3 Month Anniversary

Today marks the 3-month anniversary of the Facebook Platform since it launched May 24 at F8 in San Francisco. Suffice it to say, the pace of innovation surrounding the Facebook Platform so far is faster than that for any platform ever before.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to step back and take a look at some basic Platform stats and guideposts. In the first 90 days of the Facebook Platform:

  • 3,261 applications have been created and vetted by Facebook (many more remain below the radar). Developers from around the world and every level of sophistication are building diverse categories of Facebook applications. It is extremely cheap to develop and deploy Facebook apps.
  • 46 applications have garnered over 1 million net installations. Around 100 more have garnered over 100,000 users. Top Friends, the #1 Facebook app, has over 13 million users. Facebook is the most viral software distribution platform ever.
  • Several dedicated ad networks (and dozens of ad-hoc ones) have been built to connect advertisers with Facebook developers. Advertisers and publishers are eagerly experimenting with performance-based and brand marketing programs…developers are making money (and a few are making a LOT of money). The arbitrage market is volatile but stabilizing.
  • Investors are taking Facebook platform opportunities very seriously. Multiple venture capitalists have started programs specifically to fund and/or incubate Facebook application developers. Dozens of applications have been acquired by other application developers, Web 1.0 companies, media companies, and investors (…though few have been publicly announced).
  • Facebook is dedicating significant resources to serve and support the developer community. Developer Garage events are occurring around North America. Over 70,000 people have joined the Facebook Developers group.
  • Facebook has experienced no known major security breaches, despite opening the platform to anyone in the world.

Facebook has truly taken the social networking world by the <<>>, and the game is theirs to lose.

However, not everything is hunky-dory…

  • Developers are dying for decent Feed metrics. Right now, app developers have no idea how often their feed items are being seen or clicked on, so it’s impossible to A/B test or iterate. Facebook says they’re working on this, and hopefully better metrics in general will be available soon. Until then, everyone suffers from poorly designed feed items.
  • Investors are still figuring out how to value applications. What are the new kinds of special sauce? How do you measure engagement? User numbers are only a very basic start. The average app is getting somewhere under 1 canvas page view per user per day, and the strongest apps are seeing over 10 or even 20. There is a lot of risk in the market right now, but shrewd investors will be rewarded handsomely.
  • The APIs are still changing seemingly by the week. Just 2 weeks ago, Facebook made a major change to the FBML spec that impacted hundreds of developers with very brief lead time.
  • The TOS are still very bad for developers. The rug could be pulled out at any moment, and some very smart people are staying out of the game altogether.
  • Facebook ops have been sloppier than normal recently. An outage a few weeks ago made the site inaccessible during several prime daytime hours, and two weeks ago Facebook accidentally served up its source code

Overall, there’s never been a more enjoyable time to be an entrepreneur. So much is happening so quickly that’s accessible to so many developers and consumers. I hope the next quarter is just as fun as the first was!

[tags]facebook, platform, applications, awesome[/tags]

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