“Facebook gives people the power to share and makes the world more open and connected,” the company evangelizes about its social network. “Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.”
Is that its objective? How confident is the four-year-old company that its model will remain successful when out of 110 million active users, it is lauded by a mere 756,000 fans?
Moreover, why are there thousands of global developers building third-party applications to run on the Facebook platform? How does Facebook respond to Vasanth Sridharan of Silicon Alley Insider who suggests the new Facebook layout caused the death of widgets and their developers?
I’ve been on Facebook since 2005, when the site was only open to people with dot-edu addresses; and because I was in graduate school and had such an email address, I’d heard of it through word of mouth and signed up.
The Facebook of 2005 is very similar to the Facebook of today. While the general appearance is the same — we can send messages, upload pictures, write notes, post random blurbs on each other’s virtual walls, and “poke” each other (a concept that has more meanings than I care to go into here) — far more people are using the social network in 2008 than yesteryear.
But people are also using MySpace, which Facebook grew out of as a means to offer a graphic-free layout and features not then-available on its younger sibling. But as Sarah Perez opines on ReadWriteWeb today, Facebook is slowly turning into MySpace — and one of the indicators is a new application developer: Yontoo Technologies.
Yontoo recently released a product called Page Rage that effectively enables anyone with a Facebook profile to install software onto their computer browser which renders their Facebook profile page (and anyone else’s pages who also installed the software) to look like MySpace.
Let me repeat that. While Facebook layouts are typically minimalist-looking, such as the first picture below, MySpace layouts usually are something like the second:
Note how both belong to the same person.
While Facebook forces a universal layout to everyone with an account, Yontoo enables anyone who downloads and installs Page Rage to create a “layer” to transform a Facebook layout to look like a MySpace layout.
Oddly, Yontoo also offers a different “layer product” on their website that can transform a MySpace layout to look like Facebook, thereby “removing” the custom border and background.
Which brings me back to my original question: What is the objective of Facebook? If widget developers are essentially losing the platform game, are the new developers those who, like Yontoo, can think of ways to redesign Facebook for potential users?