On Friday, Facebook released a series of upgrades to its platform, allowing developers access to many core functionalities, such as Facebook Video and Notes, and giving them the ability to integrate them into their applications. But it was the opening up of a Status API that got the most attention. Given that Twitter had rightfully rejected a $500 million offer from Facebook, it’s been perceived as a Twitter-killer. VentureBeat did a good job of explaining why the Facebook vs. Twitter meme was a case of severe hyperbole.
In reality the decision to give broader access to its status application programming interface (API) is a recognition by Facebook that status and presence are core to its future as a real-time web company. Facebook developers I spoke with explained that, by allowing third-party developers access to Status, Facebook is hoping to compete with Twitter, which has slowly started to steal developer mindshare away from other platforms. When it comes to the Internet, real time web is obviously the next logical step. Status and presence are key components of this future, and it is good to see Facebook to recognize this and openup its platform in a more meaningful way. But as TechCrunch points out, “status” has a different meaning on Facebook and Twitter. The guys at Twitter say they’re not too worried about Facebook’s moves. In response to my emailed query, Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, wrote:
It seems like great news for developers. No doubt we’ll soon see some very cool applications providing more ways for friends to share status, links, notes, and videos. Lots of folks are saying “hello” to Twitter every day. There is overlap in some aspects of our services but there is also plenty of room for Twitter to grow, evolve, and become relevant to many more lives around the world.
I totally agree. While the company still struggles with its identity (a service provider or a platform?), the Twitter API has some serious developer mindshare. On an almost daily basis I am contacted by developers who are doing interesting things with it (though admittedly the API has some serious challenges).
Brendan Gahan, my research assistant, points out on his blog that “with Open Social, Twitter, Android and iPhone, Facebook has more competition for developers than ever before. If they want the platform to survive, they’ve got to keep developers happy, as opposed to crushing their spirits and shrinking their profits.”
Status API is part of that move — killing Twitter will have to wait for a while!