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December 14, 2007

Facebook to License its Platform Code

By Anshu Shrivastava, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Facebook (News - Alert) has announced plans to make its platform available to other social networking sites, to run applications developed for its own software platform.

Also, the company will be licensing the Facebook Platform methods and tags for use by other platforms. Facebook’s developer Web site explains that the 100,000 developers currently building Facebook applications can make their applications available on other social sites with no extra work.
Ami Vora, platform manager at Facebook, stated in his blog that his company wants to share the benefits of Facebook’s work by enabling other social sites to use the platform architecture as a model. He also said, “This is just another step toward the vision of easy, open sharing of information.”
In August 2006, the company had released the Facebook Platform API, which enables developers to build applications that work with its site, publishing details of the tags and APIs required for exchanging data. This year in May, Facebook had opened up the Facebook Web site itself, which provides developers distribution models and access to all the integration points Facebook uses to build applications.
“Of course, Facebook Platform will continue to evolve, but by enabling other social sites to use what we’ve learned, everyone wins — users get a better experience around the Web, developers get access to new audiences and social sites get more applications,” Vora said.
Facebook’s latest announcement is said to be similar to Google’s (News - Alert) OpenSocial project, which allows developers with APIs to build applications that can work on multiple social networks. Analysts believe that Facebook latest announcement will give stiff competition to Google, and also has the capacity to topple OpenSocial project.
On Wednesday, social networking site Bebo announced that it would use Facebook’s standards for its own Open Application Platform. However, according to reports, Bebo will be eventually supporting Google’s OpenSocial also.
Earlier this week, LinkedIn had announced that it will be providing a platform for third-party developers dubbed Intelligent Applications. However, LinkedIn will be supporting OpenSocial project, other sites currently supporting Google’s OpenSocial project are Hi5, Plaxo, Ning, Friendster, and MySpace (News - Alert).
Blogger at AllFacebook, Nick O’Neill, who writes about Facebook, commented that Facebook is aiming to standardize the social networking platforms across the Web so that they can be integrated in the future. “If other social networks adopt the Facebook platform, it will be a massive blow to Google. So who will the competition decide to partner with: Google or Facebook?”
Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Jupiter Research, told the press that the key now for these sites is not so much capturing new members as capturing “the hearts and minds of developers.”
He added that it is too early to tell what the effect of the Facebook-versus-OpenSocial platform competition will be. However, he pointed out, “It’s interesting that the king of all platform-creators, Microsoft (News - Alert), is not a visible player.” Recently Microsoft has brought a stake in Facebook, but reportedly has remained in the background.
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