Saturday, September 15, 2007

Facebook and Firebox - Which is the Real platform and for Who?

I am one of you who shares the dream of an inter-connected Web where:
- A site and Web Application are not different terminologies
- Everything is online and accessible from anywhere
- A user uses the web site for what its meant to do without stopping to think of technology and setting up or downloads etc. (I am thinking of a seamless user experience here)
- Web Apps are built seamlessly upon one another - extending todays' world of Open Source, XML, APIs (real ones which offer the developer time saving and reliability)

So all this platform talk excites me wondering if the era is on where we can really get there!

You all know my excitement of Facebook as a platform, many of you have been nice to share your preview of Facebook Apps everyday.

I work on a Mac, use no browser other than Firefox and love to try every technology (sleep takes away some of my day) every time I can get in the web - hosted, digital delivery, content world.

Facebook - Whose Platform is it?

Lets get out of the Myth that its cheap to build a Facebook App, a prototype, yes. A real app which can take million users requires all the same 3 tier architecture, load balancing and handling caching problems, which adds to the cost. But yes, you can build an App with no users and put it to the market in 1-2 weeks to scale to 100K users fast and cheap!

Facebook is a Product Manager's dream because it offers easy access to a user's social graph.

Like the web brought publishing technology closer to a non-technical content publisher, facebook is a marketers dream. I am amazed at how easily Facebook developers today talk about "that is not my profile of users" or "engaging users" discussions segmenting user targets, under standing their needs, typing in feedback mechanism to incorporate user needs to product, and positioning discussions of differentiating and calling for action into the social graph.

Most Facebook Apps today are technologies, not really productized. The successful ones are - intentionally or unintentionally productized for an audience segment.

These are my 5 stpes for every Facebook App to be productized to tap into the social graph:

  1. Build invitation to friends as part of the product (like Booze-mail "send a drink" or Zoo "send an animal").
  2. Display a pleasant image and clear messaging with call for action in the profile box. This is where new users get to hear about your application, users care *a lot* about what goes on their profile and will decide to keep or remove the app based on profile box.
  3. Build in notification at every user engagement of your App. This will goto their friends and be displayed in your feed for all users to see. Keep the messaging of this feed item to communicate what your App is about, with a call for action for the new user to try. eg. Zombie does an awesome job on the profile box.
  4. Use your Canvas page with clean messaging about why one should try out the App, show as much stats as possible on the friend's network to build on the social influence to try out the app. eg Top Friends is a great example.
  5. Use the left bar below profile to show Apps Stats that builds intuitively into the social graph. eg. All Slide Apps do this well, Tyler has mastered this one well. The games apps that shows scores does this well and builds social pressure to try out the game to change your score or your position in your facebook network.
Firebox - A Web Platform for Developers

I want to expand this blog post to a meaningful comparison of Facebook and Firefox as a platform.

Firefox has taken the bold first move in launching
Rock Your Firefox App for Facebook.
It does an awesome job of offering a App environment to manage your add-ons an share favorites with friends etc.

Those of you who are at Mozilla24 today, can you share your ideas with me?
How many Firefox add-on developers are there? I want more than stats in understanding the real platform play.

Ping me on facebook or comment here or write to me, I'd love to expand this to a full post comparing Firefox and Facebook as platforms, are they complimentary where do they overlap, how do we see them converging or competing, what can we do today to get there?


Anonymous said...

Sudha (Su) Jamthe said...

Good quantitative comparison between firefox and facebook as platform.

I'd love to find real difference between the two and how it impacts what kind of developers, apps and growth to the platform by the developers.

I've seen Rock Your Firefox on Facebook, would love to see it on Firefox Add-ons site.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I am not familiar with this Firefox platform.
I can't seem to find it on Google, either.
Is this a new product being worked by a stealth-mode startup???
I'd love to hear more about it.

Sudha (Su) Jamthe said...

I was referring to the Firefox browser and building Add-ons to work on Firefox as a platform across the web

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