Facebook’s Chance to Redeem Platform

Facebook squandered their opportunity to become a true platform company, argues Hamish McKenzie in 6,000 words at Pando Daily.  He describes how Facebook raised expectations sky-high at the f8 conference in 2007, only pull the rug out from under the developer ecosystem by repeatedly changing the rules in the years to come.

Hamish is right:  Facebook made a huge mistake with Platform, and it hasn’t achieved anything close to its full potential.  But the biggest obstruction wasn’t the ever-changing developer rules.  Rather, the problem was that developers were able to win eyeballs but not earn revenues.

But Hamish’s eulogy is premature – Facebook could still become the platform company that it set out to be.

All Facebook needs to do is get monetization right – then return to Platform.  And Facebook is now showing signs that they’re at an inflection point in monetization.  Once that monetization matures, Facebook will have a platform of significant interest for app developers.  All they have to do is share the wealth.  No developer would ever have installed Google’s AdSense if the links came without a payment.

Just like Google figured out how to monetize with AdWords before they rolled out AdSense, Facebook needs a credible model with clear economic incentives before app developers will give them a second chance.  But bad feelings notwithstanding, as soon as Facebook comes back to the table with a robust platform that enables apps to generate real profits, even jilted developers will be back – and Facebook will get a second shot at becoming the ultimate platform, the social operating system of the web.