Facebook is making a major platform announcement today at 3:00 PM PDT. We'll be at the press conference and, unless there's a clamp on video rights during the event, we'll be streaming it live, using Veodia (preview) technology.
Update: The press conference is now over. Click the image below for the recording, straight from my laptop's Web cam. There's about 10 minutes of waiting around before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes the stage, so you might want to skip ahead.
Update 2: Ok, sorry, this video is awful. I blame two things: My cheapo Logitech Web cam, and the fact that I used the press conference WiFi, which was overloaded. Next time, I'll use cellular (EV-DO or UMTS), which has slower max throughput than WiFi, but which is much more stable. The good news is, we had a professional camera crew at this event, so we can replace the Webcam video below with the pro tape once it's through production.
Updates from the conference:
CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reeling off the Facebook stats: 3 percent growth each week; 10 percent of the population of Canada. Big growth in the non-college market. Over 50% of users come back to site every day. Forty million page views a month.
On the controversial News Feed feature: "It got off to a rocky start." But now "users love it."
Speaking of a rocky start, when the slides Zuckerberg want fail to display, he says, "we're the sixth-biggest Web site in the U.S...and we can't get our act together."
Talking about the Facebook apps, like photo sharing and invitations, he admits they're very simple, but even so, the invitation function is more popular than Evite, which does nothing else.
What does Zuckerberg plan to do with the powerfully connected network of people? He points out that not just do communications spread throughout a group, but that the application people use spreads as well. Facebook is an incredible viral marketing machine. "The social graph is the reason Facebook works."
And now...the big reveal. I think. "Every once in a while a new platform comes along..."
"Right now, social networks are closed platforms. Today, we're going to end that." Announcing three completely new pieces of Facebook platform:
- Deep integration into Facebook community
- Mass distribution via Facebook network
- New opportunity for businesses
Talking about how you can build apps that can do "anything you want" on the Platform. And how they will have "parity" on Facebook: Vendor apps won't be "second class."
Showing how new "full social applications" can be on the Facebook page as well as have their own pages... fully embedded apps, in other ways. Now he's going into the discussion on the API. Looks like there is a lot of personal and network data available to the developer. Users, though, can opt out of sharing with new apps at any time.
There's a "Facebook markup language" for developers. It's HTML with a few additions to access Facebook data. Also: Support for Flash and Silverlight, but no autoplay, in order to "keep the user experience pretty clean."
On the "Canvas" pages for new apps, developers can go to town. No restrictions. As many pages as you want to build. And access to the Facebook data.
Regarding the News Feed: Canvas apps can access and update News Feed. This is the massive distribution play.
There are some new tools for developers, like the "friend selector" and the "multifriend selector" that people can code into pages to easily connect an app to a network of friends.
The third piece: "We want you to be able to build a business" on Facebook. You can keep all revenue from ads you put on your Canvas pages, or from sales of goods and services. "We encourage" ads and transactions. "And it's good for us too. It helps us strengthen the social graph, and sell more ad inventory."
"So there it is." Demos coming.
Microsoft VP Dan'l Lewin is on now, talking about democratizing the community of Facebook, and supporting it with Microsoft tools like Popfly. Will allow integration to MS Virtual Earth, XBox live, etc.
Now: Ross Gandinetti, VP Amazon. Amazon is a community, too, he says. New Facebook product will let the FB users review Amazon products. Amazon also has impressive data resources. Will work with Facebook and the developer community to build new stuff. What? I don't know.
Now: Max Levchin, CEO of Slide. "A massively popular Web site is reborn as an operating system today." And, "Now that these APIs are out, we're going to need some more developers." (Slide is hiring.)
Zuckerberg signing off now. Mentioning that 65 companies have built 80 new Facebook apps. The platform is launching tonight for everyone.
And that's it! I'm signing off so I can go schmooze with the developers. More later.