Blog Post

Facebook Spins Out Widgets; Spins Everyone

The big grand announcement Facebook was supposed to make this week came: it is launching widgets. Yep. Did WSJ get spun with a deliberate leak to hype this up? Probably not, but if they can spin us, we can spin conspiracy yarns as well. The announcement: Facebook has done deals to allow companies to provide widgets that Facebook users can insert in their pages, catching up to MySpace and every other social network out there. In total, 65 partner companies unveiled more than 85 additional applications. Read the coverage from Dan Farber and Gigaom (actually Liz is a bit skeptical, but too detailed) for more.
And then, read this piece of “exclusive” hyperbole from David Kirkpatrick…stories like these haven’t been written since 1999. Some new things, like opening up to third-party widgets (although the “w” word is never used as best we can tell) in a bit more structured fashion; the widgets can be monetized anyway–sponsorships, ads, e-commerce–by these companies, with no revenue share yet for Facebook. Also, Facebook has added video, and says it will provide higher-quality video than YouTube (every second new video company’s pitch these days), but mostly for communicating among friends. Smart business moves, but not really earth shattering as the coverage would have you believe. And for you, David, I would humbly suggest a daily diet of our feed. We feed the hungry, satiated and gullible, alike.

7 Responses to “Facebook Spins Out Widgets; Spins Everyone”

  1. Rafat, you have this wrong. It is a tough thing to wrap your head around without serious thought. Facebook has proven itself a hugely USEFUL tool, MySpace has hardly done that. They have now taken a huge step to make it so people develop entire businesses based on Facebook, something that MySpace has allowed, but always those businesses have the daily fear they will be cut off of their lifeblood. Facebook is encouraging and facilitating, while MySpace is often taking a dump on, these companies. Think of Ebay, people make their living on Ebay, and they are much more powerful for it.

  2. Rafat,

    It's quite obvious that you didn't take a close look at David's dive into the Facebook story and misson; rather then him specifically looking at this announcement. It's also quite obvious that you're a few years removed from the Facebook generation to realize how loyal their customer base is.

    Kirkpatrick’s story on the announcement and the overall mission of Facebook nailed it on several levels.

    Personally, as a Generation Yer, the story hit pretty close to home.

    The whole story of Facebook really defines our generation and I’m telling you first hand; the college crowd isn’t going to leave…Like many college alums I have started to dabble in other social networks for “professionals” like LinkedIN, but Facebook keeps pulling me back. Why?

    Because it’s about cultivating relationships with people I already know and have shared 3:00 a.m. bleary-eyed discussions with. Like Kirkpatrick duly noted.

    Slowly after some time the college crowd will start to go back less frequently but they will still check-in from time-to-time and the next generation of college and high school students will carry the torch.

    I was graduating as an undergraduate when Facebook first came to my university and it instantly took off. The funniest thing is that the class that graduated ahead of me has no idea what the Facebook phenomenon really is.

    Just one year difference and they don’t understand how closely entwined Facbook became in everyday College life. From organizing parties & fund raisers, sharing pictures, stories, declaring relationships and viewpoints, defining myself, letting me know my friend from abroad was having their birthday, letting people know where I was; it became a daily part of my life.
    In truth these days, it’s like waking up in the morning and reading an online newspaper about what is going on across your “Friend’s World.”

    That’s what the feeds have enabled. Yeah, it started out as a great hook-up tool for frat brothers but it has evolved into so much more. That’s why this announcement from Zuckerberg didn’t catch me off-guard at all.

    Involving your friends in everything you do online; is what Facebook has already turned into. It’s even more actually. It’s the tool to include your friends in everything you do in your life. At least in my social circles…

    Facebook is going to end up being Microsoft’s best move of the decade because I truly believe Facebook will far surpass Myspace in the next couple years and become a company that is mentioned in the same breath with the likes of Yahoo! and Google.

    As long as Zuckerberg doesn’t let the site become overly commercial and sticks to the mission of “growing your relationships online with old and new friends” Facebook will be the company that we are talking about in the next decade.

    “I Googled it” and “I Facebooked him” will be synonymous phrases in all social circles..

  3. Hi Rafit, Fortune's "The Browser" mentioned that I hadn't covered this post in my roundup of the best Facebook Platform coverage, and while I explained why in their comments, I wanted to make sure I gave you my feedback directly.

    I'm subscribed to PaidContent's RSS and read all of your coverage, but I felt like this particular post of yours was taking a contrarian point of view just for the sake of showing you're not drinking the kool-aid, rather than out of any factually-based arguments.

    You ask if WSJ was "spun with a deliberate leak", then admit they probably weren't, then continue to discuss it as if they were. The fact is the WSJ article got several points wrong, so if it was a leak, it was a very bad one. More likely, to my mind, is that they saw Eliot Van Buskirk's tip, then started hounding whatever contacts they have at Facebook, who may not have been willing to give much information, leaving the WSJ to extrapolate, guess, or misinterpret what little information they did get.

    As for the rest of the post, I think you're missing several key points. Even if this were just widget access, providing universal, deeply integrated access is a big deal. In point of fact, we're talking about more than widgets. Facebook is becoming a centralized, personalized platform for user application development. That's a big deal, not hyperbole.

    You can find my key coverage round-up and analysis at . I hope you'll leave a comment, I'm always interested in differing viewpoints when they're well supported.

    Thanks for your time,
    ~Jay Neely, Social Strategist

  4. Rafat Ali

    I am using your language on you…I am sure you're aware of that technique. Sorry but I think you got completely spun on this one, but that's my opinion vs yours.

  5. Rafat–
    I suggest you study the announcement more carefully before you lash out with what is in itself hyperbole.

    If you think these are just widgets you are very misinformed. The idea that technologically Facebook is "catching up" to MySpace is hilarious–and fundamentally wrong.

  6. "stories like these haven't been written since 1999". sorry, i didn't take the time to read the story you mentioned, but i am seeing more and more stories written today that sound EXACTLY like the ones we were fed in 1999 from a host of different companies.

    bubble 2.0 anyone?