Investing in Facebook Applications

Your favorite geeks at Facebook have done it again. Three months ago, as you probably noticed, Facebook officially launched its developer’s platform application so that users like you have the freedom to create any program. What does this mean for Facebook, besides more Ferraris for Mark Zuckerberg? What does this mean for you? Probably more time invested in stalking your friends online when you should be studying. Nearly 75,000 developers, ranging from college lowlifes to corporate businesses, have joined Facebook’s free developer’s platform application.
Although creating applications might not seem difficult to some, the key to a successful application is thorough planning that provides true benefits to the user. Facebook’s audience is not composed of just high school and college students anymore. The company’s modernized approach now targets a large demographic of older people and international users as well, giving developers a wider target audience. Creating simplistic programs, such as Facebook’s infamous ‘poke,’ provides an easy-to-use interface for the user while simultaneously creating a profitable business for you.
The new platform is creating big hype among venture capitalists and dot com companies. For example, Bay Partners, a Silicon Valley venture firm, created the AppFactory, a program designed to fund Facebook application designers $25,000 to $250,000 per application under a $300 million budget. Unlike today’s funded developers, individual application designers such as Jia Shen and Lance Tokuda started with nothing and eventually developed a slew of applications, ranging from the fortune cookie application to the food fight application. Together, they helped generate $200,000 in ad revenue alone.
Facebook applications are getting more complex and sophisticated after the first wave of applications hit the site. While the ‘poke’ was initially Facebook’s most ingenious yet creepiest application, today’s developers are taking it even further. The ‘trips’ application, developed by Side Step Inc., allows users to post trip itineraries, dates and names of attending travelers.
However, the application lacks a ‘carpooling’ feature that helps unite people going to the same place, such as a taxi ride. Although the program is still fairly simple, the company hopes to add other advanced features to the application, such as a search box for airplane tickets and car rentals. The ‘iLike’ application allows users to select different songs and add them to their pages. Users are given the option of hearing sample clips, purchase the music from iTunes directly or even dedicating songs to a friend.
Sometimes, however, the application doesn’t have audio clips for certain songs. Box.net took it one step further with its ‘Files’ application. Adding its product allows you to share word documents, pictures, audio and other types of files with other users. Before you go uploading all your illegally downloaded anime to share with your fellow anime enthusiasts, there is a catch. Box.net provides you with 10 megabytes to start and five megabytes for every friend that adds the application thereafter. For those of you who are eager to waste money, Box.net allows you to upgrade your storage space for $25 per year.
With the rising number of social network Web sites, Facebook’s future continues to look promising. After rejecting both Viacom’s $750 million bid for the company and Yahoo’s $1 billion offer, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to keep the company independent. In an interview with Time Magazine, Zuckerberg said, ‘As a company we’re very focused on what we’re building and not as focused on the exit. We just believe that we’re adding a certain amount of value to people’s lives if we build a very good product.’
Although no specific future plans for the company were disclosed, Facebook continues to grow, with over 30 million active users. It is ranked as the sixth most trafficked site in the United States.
The popularity of the Web site can be attributed to its design, which is genius, to say the least. It essentially allows anyone with experience in coding javascript or with Facebook’s Markup Language (FBML) to become a developer and potentially make hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once registered, developers have access to a step-by-step guide detailing how to create applications.
The process begins by defining all your application details, such as a description of the application and a Web address to locate it. After you come up with your million-dollar idea and write it out in code, it starts to get tricky. The frame of your program must then be linked to Facebook’s page layout using the provided Facebook binary codes. Facebook even accommodates you with a test console to try out your newly designed program on a template profile. If you get stuck ‘debugging’ your application, you can take it one step further and add the tutorial application to help guide you through the program’s kinks. After perfecting the application, it is submitted to Facebook for review and approval.
Time and again, Facebook has proven to be a trendsetter in the world of social networking Web sites and even in the Internet itself. Now, students can only wait and see what innovative ideas the company will develop in the future.