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Summary:

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Facebook’s new Timeline, the feature that will replace user profiles with a chronological digital scrapbo…

Facebook Timeline 3
photo: Facebook

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Facebook’s new Timeline, the feature that will replace user profiles with a chronological digital scrapbook. A recent wall posting from a Facebook employee suggests the company is aiming for an “end of the year” rollout. Meanwhile, a December court date has been set in the increasingly nasty trademark fight between Facebook and website Timelines.com

Mark Arruda runs a site that offers customized images, which he calls Facebook Covers for users to place atop their Timeline page. Since his business is directly tied to the new feature, he has been searching for hints about when Timeline will become available to the general public (it is now only available to developers who have signed up for a pilot version). During his research, Arruda discovered Facebook employees discussing Timeline’s release date on their own Facebook pages.

One of the posts is from a Facebook executive named Mike Schroepfer, who is welcoming new engineers to a bootcamp that the company offers. In the ensuing conversation thread, he responds to a question about Timeline by saying, “we are still testing with developers – hope to roll it out for wider testing before the end of the year.”

Arruda has posted a screenshot of this exchange that blurs out the participants’ names. But it’s easy enough to confirm that that post is indeed from Schroepfer’s Facebook page, and that it was posted on October 14. That’s because Schroepfer, who goes by “Schrep,” has not adjusted his privacy settings to prevent the public from reading his wall posts. Our own screenshot of the exchange is embedded below.

The upshot of Schroepfer’s comments is that the public release of Timeline appears to be as far off as it was when Mark Zuckerberg announced at the f8 conference on September 22 that the feature would arrive “in coming weeks.” Some people, including Arruda, believe that the delay is part of a deliberate strategy by Facebook to introduce the feature gradually.

“It’s very possible that it was going to be a slow rollout from the very beginning. It’s probably to keep users happy. Users like to keep things static,” said Arruda, who described Timeline as “great.”

The reluctance of Facebook users to embrace change was described this week by David Pogue in the New York Times (NYSE: NYT). Pogue praised Timeline as a “genuinely useful online tool” and sympathized with Facebook’s plight in dealing with user gripes: “Any time a company with 800 million active customers makes a change, a certain predictable percentage of them go ballistic.”

This backs the view that the Timeline delay is nothing more than a strategic choice by Facebook. Still, there is the question of the lawsuit.

Recall that Timelines.com in late September filed an urgent request asking a court to prevent Facebook from using the name, saying the Chicago site would be “rolled over” and “eliminated” by the social networking giant. Shortly after, a federal judge refused to grant a temporary restraining order but did require Facebook to make ongoing disclosures about how many developers were signing up for the feature. He also ruled that Timelines.com could file for another restraining order if this sign-up number was much greater than expected.

Since then, the legal fight has intensified. Timelines.com has posted a plea on its homepage asking for the public’s help in defending its trademark. And a Tuesday court filing shows that the parties are to meet for a status hearing on December 6. These hearings are often used to determine procedural issues ahead of an impending trial.

It’s entirely possible that it’s the court case — rather than last-minute tweaking of the product by engineers — that is holding up the Timeline rollout. Timelines.com has a strong case because it has a registered trademark for the very service that Facebook intends to offer. In deciding to grant an injunction, courts will look in part at whether a party will suffer “irreparable harm” and it is hard to conclude that Timelines.com would not be harmed if its product name is adopted by 800 million Facebook users.

Facebook declined to comment for the story. Timelines.com and its lawyers did not return calls for comment.

  1. i have my timeline because i signed up as a developer.I want all of my friends to see my timeline.Facebook needs to cut the BS and MAKE MY TIMELINE LIVE already.I’m sick and tired of waiting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  2. i have my timeline because i signed up as a developer.I want all of my friends to see my timeline.Facebook needs to cut the BS and MAKE MY TIMELINE LIVE already.I’m sick and tired of waiting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  3. FirstCovers.com is a clone site! GraphicFlash LLC created the first site called myFBCovers.com and it is really unfortunate that FirstCovers is making a false claim stating they were first. They were far from first because there were numerous other sites up and running prior to FirstCovers existence  myFBCovers.com has over 10,000 users already and almost 5,000 likes while all the other clone sites have barely 500 likes if that. This is clearly another one of those clone sites!

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    1. I have to disagree!  That site is garbage.  The content on first covers is far superior, and the covers are done much more professionally.  I know your a little site just trying make some money and keep up with them, but come on.  Their covers are the best out there, hands down.  I get all my covers there and will continue to.  I love firstcovers.com!!

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      1. Your clearing making a fool out of yourself saying that myFBCovers.com is a little site trying to keep up with FirstCovers. FirstCovers has far less users and likes. Try checking the actual statistics before you run your mouth and make yourself look ignorant. Numbers are all that matter.

        Also, if myFBCovers.com is trying to keep up than why were they featured on MSNBC, TechCrunch, AllFacebook, CNET and many more? Weird… I don’t see FirstCovers on any of those sites but AllFacebook who posted about them days after myFBCovers.com was posted. 

        MSNBC: http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/09/29/8033086-how-to-make-your-new-facebook-profile-look-awesome

        CNET: http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-20116276-285/how-to-customize-your-facebook-cover-photo/
        TechCrunch: http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/28/fbcovers-helps-facebook-look-more-like-myspace/

        AllFacebook: http://www.allfacebook.com/how-to-hack-the-cover-image-in-facebooks-timeline-profile-2011-09

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        1. myFBCovers.com, If you are so big why do you feel so threatened by FirstCovers.com? Quit wasting your time crying about how firstcovers.com is misrepresenting themselves bla bla blaaaaaaa… instead you should use that time to make your website BETTER so that people will use your website instead of his. I own http://www.AddCovers.com … (Thank you to the person who mentioned me in one of the comments here). I don’t focus on other website… I focus on mine and how I can improve so that people will use my website instead of my competitions … You crying about FirstCovers on EVERY blog post or  Article that mentions first covers only makes you look like a little girl.

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      2. I also agree that firstcovers has better content. But it’s kind of ridiculous to be loyal to one website in particular, there are many websites with a great selection like http://fbcoverlover.com/ and http://www.addcovers.com/ of the top of my mind.

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  4. I find this hilarious.

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  5. I LOVE Timeline .. I signed in early too through the link as a developer and have been using it for nearly a month.  I have very few friends using it.  For instance .. today was my birthday .. all the comments people made on my wall (now Timeline) are there in one place for me to easily scroll, browse and respond to.  Before, I would have missed most of them .. I will also be able to go back to this birthday and see what I was talking about or interested in or what the news was, according to what I have stored in my Timeline.  I love the visual of it too .. so much easier on the eyes.  Why does anyone have the right to attach themselves onto an existing venue in the first place?  After reading what I have above (including the comments), I wouldn’t want to even check out Timeline Covers .. FBCovers or FirstCovers.  What a nasty attitude.

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  6. stop crying the site is free that gives you free updates, people are unreal ‘ ohhh no facebook has added a new feature now i have to learn all over again, i hate it bring all facebook back.Grow up if you can manage to work a computer i am sure you can learn an extra feature on a web page.

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  7. Even if we have to wait until the end of the year for timelines to roll out, it will be worth it. It will be one of the most fundamental facebook profile changes since facebook was created.

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  8. gents, calm down. both of your sites suck. fookcover.com owns both of you.

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  9. Honestly. it’s all about the smaller sites like http://www.myfbcoverphoto.com which actually handpicks stuff that would make good covers instead of just blasting 2343242342389042304 car pics just resized as a cover.

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