Get ready for the battle of the social web titans to take place over the next week and half. Following a crazy weekend in which Twitter announced the acquisition of Tweetie, leaving many developers feeling betrayed, Facebook has a massive opportunity to steal the spotlight. With both companies holding their developer conferences in the next 10 days, here’s how Facebook is poised to steal developers’ attention.
Twitter Developers Feel Betrayed
Before jumping into Facebook’s strategy to out open Twitter, it’s important to frame the conversation in terms of what went down over the weekend. Twitter can credit their success over the past couple years to the thousands of developers who have helped build tools that make their service easier to consume and interact with. Whether that’s Seesmic (who now feels threatened) or Tweetie (who was acquired by Twitter on Friday), Twitter’s growth can be attributed to the developer ecosystem that has jumped at the opportunity to build on top of the Twitter API.
While the writing was on the wall, as Mike Arrington pointed out over the weekend there was a justifiable reason for developers to be angry. Anytime developers fall because the platforms change the rules of the game, developers make a big fuss and then move along with life.
Having platform changes that hurt the ecosystem is not exactly foreign to Facebook app developers. Take the following instances where developers were affected by arbitrary policy enforcement or changes to the Platform:
- Facebook Kills Audio App (July 2007)
- Facebook Redesigns Profiles, Kills Widgets (September 2008)
- The Facebook Platform Dies (October 2008)
- Facebook To Remove Most Communication Channels (October 2009)
- Facebook Kills Notifications, Traffic Drops (March 2010)
After years of dealing with Platform policy inconsistencies and changes that negatively affect applications (in the short-term at least), Facebook developers have thicker skin than Twitter developers who have essentially been given full access with very few restrictions. Now Twitter developers are beginning to realize that Platform owners are always a source of risk and tension, even on Twitter.
Facebook Is Ready To Seize The Moment
With Facebook developers now having years of battle wounds, things can only get better. To be fair, things aren’t that bad for Facebook app developers, but things could be better. With next week’s f8 fast approaching, Facebook is looking to reignite the enthusiasm that developers had when they first opened the Platform in 2007. So how will Facebook be able to do this?
The Opening Of Facebook Becomes A Reality
In March of 2009 David Recordon predicted that in 2010, Facebook will no longer be a walled garden. Within months Recordon became an employee of the company as Facebook and it’s definitely not a coincidence. By next week, Facebook’s walled garden will be eliminated. With launch of the Open Graph API, a more robust public stream firehose, new location services, and a more robust identity management platform through upgrades in Facebook Connect, Facebook will become the most open social aggregator on the web.
Twitter previously stole developers’ attention with access to much more public data, however Facebook will soon grant similar forms of access to Platform developers. If I were to speculate about additional services, I’d expect the company to announce an upgrade to their temporarily disabled Data Store API, powered by the company’s new data centers.
The company has announced ambitious plans in the past, however I think this year Facebook will make some of the biggest bets they’ve ever made. With more cash to play with, Facebook should be taking bigger risks if they are going to surpass Google as the leading internet company. In addition to launching a new Credits system and a more robust Ads API to monetize things, Facebook is going to open up access to much more information.