Yesterday at an event called f8, Facebook launched their new “platform” which enables third party companies to integrate applications right inside of Facebook. Mashable has a pretty good overview of thirty such applications. Everything about the Facebook Platform seems fairly ballsy, but you can’t argue with statistics like these:
- Facebook is growing 3% per week, which is 100,000 new users per day.
- 50% of registered users come back to the site every day.
- Facebook is generating more than 40 billion page views per month. That’s 50 pages per user every day.
- 6th most trafficked site in the U.S. More page views than eBay. Says they are targeting Google next.
In short, there’s no better place for such a platform to be built than on Facebook.
The last point above, as reported by Michael Arrington, is particularly interesting. I suspect there are millions of people around the world right now who think that Google is the Internet. Increasingly though, you might say the same thing about Facebook. If their user growth continues, and the Platform takes off, Facebook might become the new on-ramp to the web. No need to go anywhere else when all your friends (and family, colleagues, etc) and apps (webmail, shopping, stocks, etc) are in one place.
Not only is the name “Facebook Platform” incredibly obvious, it’s also very astute. Facebook is no longer just a social networking site. It really is becoming a social operating system, as some have called it.
What does this have to do with Microsoft?
Microsoft is a platform company, plain and simple. Think of a Microsoft product – chances are it’ll be a platform product. Windows, Office, SharePoint, .NET, Xbox, etc. Microsoft is pretty good at laying the foundation and helping others build on top (which only serves to make their platform all the more important).
The Facebook Platform sounds very much like something Microsoft would build. To see what I mean, read this sentence:
Facebook is a platform that provides a common abstraction of the infrastructure and guts of a system, allowing third parties to build interesting and useful applications on top.
Now replace Facebook with Windows. Or Office. Or .NET. See what I mean? It still makes sense. Facebook is very much taking a page from the Microsoft playbook with Platform. I think it’s brilliant. And I think Microsoft should have done it a long time ago.
But they didn’t. I think they are moving in the right direction with Windows Live, but it sure is taking a while. Perhaps Colin is right…maybe Microsoft should just buy Facebook. I don’t think it’ll happen though.
At least Microsoft isn’t totally out to lunch on this – they are partnering with Facebook to integrate Popfly.