This is the story of how the Facebook dev platform is sooo 2007, while Twitter – as a platform and social command line – will be the story of 2009. Twitter’s openness as an app platform could make it the default development platform for community apps.
Facebook: The King of 2007
The incredible popularity of facebook’s dev platform from it’s launch in May of 2007 – shown by both from the huge number of 3rd party app developers as the incredible amount of users – provides firm evidence there is a huge market for social applications. Users want to engage with other users both friends and the like minded public and platforms and applications that offer that functionality will be very successful.
Despite a platform that was generating 25 billion page views a month with a user base of 25+ million a month, Facebook decided to pull back. Facebook decided it didn’t want to be a personal billboard service where a user could express themselves with badges from any number of apps. Facebook is now a controlled sandbox where only certain things are allowed. Facebook wants to be a personal automated rolodex with built in messaging & annoucements (aka news feed). There’s nothing wrong with facebook’s chosen direction (except for the fact they pulled the rug out from thousands of app developers but that’s a different story). Even just as a super, automated personal CRM, facebook is is a hugely valuable business.
In the wake of Facebook’s changes, the opportunity for a truly open, flexible, non-walled garden social platform presents itself. Myspace as the social expression platform makes sense except Myspace seems to have evolved into the Fan Club platform – again a valuable market but it is what it is. But what has happened is that given
Twitter: The King of 2009
If there is an open source social platform – it’s Twitter. There are a minimum set of rules other then the 140 character messaging limitation. There are no limits on who and how often you message folks who follow you. All the apps built on Twitter are by default open – as all tweeted items are in the public Twitter domain. Thus all commands, messages, actions, reactions cause Twitter to look and feel like a public command line. Twitter is not about private back channel api’s. For instance, Stocktwits might have popularized the $stock symbol short hand, but it doesn’t own it. Any other app can take advantage of the $ short hand even co-opting Stocktwits audience. Tipjoy is popularizing the command “p” for micropayments and so on. And what’s great about the open command line model – Twitter isn’t dictating functions from inside the kremlin it’s letting its users and developers do it for them.
Twitter is now a powerful platform for social apps and the folks who figure out how to build popular apps and communities on top of it will do very well for themselves. Facebook might have the social graph, Myspace the fan clubs, but Twitter will have the truly social apps.