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When Facebook introduced its platform earlier this year, iLike CEO Ali Partovi told me his company might not have launched its music recommendation service as a web site if a Facebook app had been an option. It sounded crazy at the time, but is becoming much less so. Last night I attended part of the Stanford Facebook class end-of-term presentations, and I think it’s safe to assume that little-to-none of the student applications have any sort of presence outside of Facebook. They’re all about maximizing virality, and that’s simply better done within a social network.
Yesterday Mesmo.tv CEO Davin Miyoshi told us his company had dropped its web service to focus fully on its Facebook and Bebo applications. We’d been covering the company over at NewTeeVee because it was trying to offer a sort of Last.fm for video. But now it’s changed focus as well, after having more success with a TV trivia application. As I wrote on NewTeeVee,
You can’t fault Mesmo for trying to grab ahold of a good opportunity when it comes by, but this move seems a little strange considering the company’s Facebook app sees just 2 percent of its user base log in every day (that’s Facebook’s measure of user engagement; by contrast, top apps have 20 to 50 percent daily participation). At the same time, social networking platforms offer unprecedented opportunities to engage users. So perhaps them being the company’s sole focus will be a good thing. Meanwhile, video recommendation services like ffwd (formerly Vadver) have one fewer competitor.
Social networks are worlds unto themselves, and their prized viral effects won’t necessarily attract the same audience you’d find on the open web. I don’t know of companies that have been successful uniting their user bases on and off Facebook — possibly Flixster? If you’re a widget provider like Slide or RockYou, you don’t have this problem, but what if you want to hedge your bets? Renkoo CTO Joyce Park tells us that her company actually has three user bases: its event-planning web site Renkoo.com, its virtual pet application Haikoo Zoo, and its virtual drink application Booze Mail.