Commentary

Will Facebook Take Over The Internet?

I actually wanted to wait some more days before getting overly critical editorial again, until a new writing opportunity on an existing and READ blog started, but the conversation at Web Worker Daily and my inability to shuttup made me reopen this blog today already.

Anne Zelenka worries that Facebook could take over the Internet after the introduction of the F8 platform. And as I’ve written here before MZ made a strategically very smart move.

But today, only some days of Facebook fun with friends later, I think that FaceBook also has dugg its own graveyard. Let me correct that : battlefield.
Due to the nature of Facebook, every day more applications go viral and application developers, sometimes even already existing platforms such as iLike get deeper in trouble. In trouble due to their popularity.
Over the weekend iLike sent out an email to Valley companies, asking for servers until they could buy new own servers, only because of the popularity of their FB application. Read more at pmarca (scroll down to #4 of the Cons).

Together with the very viral nature of F8 many smaller overnight built applications, such as iGift, SuperPoke or FoodFight, and their developers have gotten in trouble : F8 requires the developer to host its own application, on own servers.
Exactly this could turn FB in to a battlefield over the next months, years. Most developers won’t be able to afford the hosting costs for their quickly whipped up application and we will see VC money and a whole new economy around FB/F8.
Applications will be sold and with time the Big 5 (think Google, Yahoo!, MS, Amazon and Ebay) will become more present at F8, not only with their own applications (Amazon already has a book review app on FB), but also with acquisitions.
Dollars will flow towards developers and the Big 5 will fight to increase their influence on the F8 platform.

I see only 2 possibilities right at the moment:

  1. MZ is REALLY smart and sells out now. Not going to happen.
  2. Within 18 months FB is an economical, influence Internet warfield. And MZ will be the loser of the year. Due to FB’s growing dependence on external applications, applications then owned by the Big 5, a sell out strategy has become impossible for FaceBook.
    Any major investment in FaceBook would be too risky, because any other player could pull its own platform of applications from FaceBook.

Contrary to what Mark Andreesen wrote at pmarca [via Mathew Ingram], the platform will not win in latter case.

Drama scenario for my thesis were if FaceBook really has the money to buy omst platforms themselves. To pull a Myspace.
But I can’t find any revenue stream at Facebook, big enough to compete with the Big 5 and the likes of CBS (last.fm).

Update: Finally it seems other people start to think buy Facebook applications.

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