Only a year ago, there was a huge buzz around Facebook's new application platform. Big money was made by some, while others simply threw together whatever they could and released it to the masses in the hopes of being the next iLike.
Today, the Facebook platform is alive and well, but the hot new platform is the iPhone. People are lining up for hours to get their hands on one, and developers see dollars in those lines: Unlike with Facebook apps, you can charge for iPhone software, and developers keep 70 percent of the money collected through Apple's app store.
One of the 550-plus new iPhone applications was Facebook's own, a slightly amped-up version of the Web-based Facebook for iPhone Web site introduced late last year. It's more useful than than the mobile Web site, but it's still watered down from its desktop cousin, with just a contact list and a chat app. Notably missing are the other Facebook applications that have helped make the social network such an appealing service for both users and developers.
It would make sense if the next step for the Facebook platform was a mobile version--something where whatever you developed would work on both desktop and mobile devices, starting with the iPhone and later Android. In that regard, Facebook's mobile iPhone application is only the beginning, and just a preview of what's to come.
I think we'll see at next week's F8 event a product or service that will help developers shrink down their applications to fit into Facebook's mobile application framework. It's a move that goes squarely against Apple's engrained apps marketplace by having developers spend resources on coding for Facebook instead of themselves; however, the result will be the augmentation of the mobile Facebook experience that's closer to what people have gotten accustomed to on their computers.
Facebook's UI has already begun to change to match the finger-friendly style. The latest profile refresh has moved the applications from a sidebar to different tabs--the same look can be found in Facebook's iPhone-optimized Web app. Such a style could easily be shrunk down to fit a smaller screen, whereas the old one could not.… Read more