Study: Developer activity on Facebook's platform is slowing

One Facebook application creator says that there's less activity going on in developer forums and that he's got the numbers to prove it.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

All gold rushes must come to an end, and according to one new report, Facebook's developer platform is no exception.

Facebook developer Jesse Farmer, creator of developer analytics service Adonomics, did an extensive amount of number-crunching after coming to an odd observation earlier this year: "Something is wrong in the Facebook developer community," Farmer wrote in a blog post Tuesday. "Starting in March I began noticing that the level of activity in the Facebook developers forum was dropping sharply."

Farmer's research confirmed his speculation: activity in the Facebook developer forum, from posts per day to highly active users, had fallen notably from January to April. In other words, that likely means there's less activity on the part of independent developers hoping to tap into Facebook's massive audience.

One possible reason, Farmer wrote, is the fact that Facebook isn't the only hub for social-network application developers anymore. Google kickstarted the OpenSocial standard last year, and Bebo, newly acquired by AOL, is currently the only social network that supports both Facebook and OpenSocial applications.

It could also mean, as Farmer pointed out, less chatter taking place in an open forum as application creators grow more concerned about the effect of competition in the packed developer space.

Or perhaps, he suggests, small-time developers might be disillusioned. Facebook, in an effort to curb spam, has instituted new regulations that some developers find controversial. Then there's the presence of big application companies like Slide and RockYou, which dominate the rankings of the most popular Facebook applications and have valuations in the hundreds of millions. Not only do they dwarf smaller developers, but they also snap up programmer talent that might otherwise be independent.

"Networks like Zynga and Social Gaming Network have cropped up in the last few months and have made it their business to consolidate the game space on Facebook, probably the only real vertical that has found success on the platform," Farmer wrote. "Bigger companies like Slide and RockYou have been actively recruiting from the Facebook developer pool all along, too."

Is the Facebook platform doomed? Hardly. But if Farmer's research is accurate, it's a sign that the initial frenzy is finally quieting--it's been a year, after all.