Facebook: Islands in the Stream [UPDATED]
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is going to turn the social network’s “stream” of user experiences and information into a revenue stream one way or another. And if that means allowing others to pan its waters for gold, then so be it.
And so, at an event in Palo Alto later today, Facebook will reportedly announce plans to open its stream to third-party developers, offering them the chance to build new services and applications outside the site that–with users’ permission–access the status updates, photos and videos uploaded by users. According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook will provide that access via an open standard and it will do it for free.
An attractive proposition for developers: Access to a community with some 200 million members where the only real barrier to entry is a user’s privacy settings. In the months ahead, we’ll undoubtedly see this give rise to countless new services in much the same way Twitter has spawned an ecosystem of developers.
In doing this, Facebook is positioning itself as a social data clearinghouse feeding a myriad of other third-party services. More importantly, by doing so, the social-networking behemoth is also acknowledging that we’re not likely to conduct all our social interactions in a single network.
But it’s also betting that we may be willing to conduct many of them through one. And in the end, that’s just as good–especially if that social network is Facebook.
Moments ago Facebook announced the Open Stream API which will allow third party developers to create new apps and services that will allow users to read an interact with Facebook member streams without having to actually visit Facebook.
“The stream is the flow of information on Facebook, which manifests itself on a user’s home page as the News Feed and on the user’s profile as the Wall,” Facebook explains in its developer Wiki. “It represents the content a user shares with friends in a real-time setting. Initially the stream content appeared only on Facebook, and now with the Open Stream API, developers can connect to their users’ streams and let their users read their streams wherever they want. This means that for the first time, you can build new user interfaces for the stream everywhere including Web, mobile, and desktop applications.”
A bold move. And one that will almost certainly let some of the steam out of Twitter’s pistons.