Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Facebook’s Big F8 Plans Get Dialed Back, Just a Bit

Facebook’s soon-to-be-announced overhaul is designed to help people find and consume more media. But the social network’s original plan, which was to have its users consume that media without leaving the site, has changed.

Facebook had planned on letting users engage with services like music subscription services and video sites without having them leave the social network, via what sources have alternately described as a “bridge” or a “tray” or a “remote control.”

But those plans have been scrapped in recent weeks, according to multiple sources familiar with the launch plans. New plan: When a user clicks on an update telling them that, say, their friend is listening to a song on Spotify, Facebook will open up a Spotify page and give the user the ability to sign on via a single click, using their Facebook identity. But they’ll have to use Spotify’s player to play, pause and manipulate the service in any way.

“We were bummed when they killed it,” says one F8 launch partner. “We thought it was cool.”

The people I’ve talked to offer different opinions about the reasoning behind the change of plans. Some think that Facebook wasn’t comfortable with the technology it would use to run the remote control, while others think that rights issues, particularly with regard to music services, have held it up. Others say Facebook has merely delayed the function while it “bucket tests” the user interface.

Facebook PR reps declined to comment.

Discarding or delaying the remote control option makes the experience a bit less seamless for Facebook and its partners, but I’m not sure that users will notice or care. When it comes to music services in particular, lots of people are used to the idea of setting up a player, then multitasking and surfing on other windows anyway.

And the notion that Facebook will tell its 750 million users what their friends are consuming, then make it very easy for them to follow suit, is tremendously attractive to Facebook’s partners, who are expecting to see a huge influx of new users.

One partner described it has another attempt by Facebook to revive its old “Beacon” project, without the advertising/privacy issues that foiled its first effort in 2007. “It’s going to be incredibly viral,” says an executive at a partner site. “We can’t wait.”

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