This evening Venturebeat published a story which essentially suggests that Facebook is preparing to kill all viral channels. The effect would be dramatic, possibly killing off those developers that don’t invest in large ad campaigns to drive installs. In theory this would also drive up the cost of advertisements and boost Facebook’s revenue to the extent that top developers can afford paying top dollar for installs … the majority can’t though.
Here are the changes according to Kim-Mai Culter:
1) Notifications, which are at the bottom left hand corner of the page, may go away entirely or be tucked into a subsection of the site. [...]
2) Requests, which are usually at the top right-hand of the homepage, may get filed away into a part of the messages inbox. [...]
3) Facebook is also pushing developers to get users direct e-mail addresses, instead of relying on the social network as a communications middle man. [...]
4) The company may get rid of the ‘Boxes’ tab on the profile page.
5) In what may help some outside companies, Facebook may add a ‘Games’ tab to the left-hand column. This may make up some of the lost visibility. But it may not attract the Facebook users who play social games that don’t think of themselves as hard-core gamers.
As we’ve already written, the new homepage has dramatically affected the platform economy, reducing traffic by upwards of 75 percent for some applications. While the system has become more democratic, it also changes the entire business model for these companies. Advertisers will get more clicks on their ads however there will theoretically be a significant decrease in pageviews as the platform would be annihilated.
Does it sound dramatic? It is. The only problem though is it seems almost too dramatic. We received an invite to Facebook’s developer garage on Wednesday this evening but we know nothing else outside of there being a discussion which will provide a “sneak peek of the Facebook Platform roadmap.” If Kim-Mai’s source is accurate, there could be a massive backlash from developers whose livelihood depends on the existing viral channels.
At this point we have no information to confirm or deny Kim-Mai’s sources, however we are pursuing more information right now. We find this information extremely difficult to believe as it would have massively negative implications for all Facebook developers. If the platform didn’t die in July of 2008, will it die in October of 2009 with these new changes?
We have no official statement from Facebook however we have heard from a number of sources that big changes are coming which will dramatically impact the platform. The other thing we’ve heard is that there may be new features which benefit developers, however we can’t provide details on those now. It should also be emphasized that the death of the platform is a recurring theme however we have yet to see that happen.
For Facebook to kill the platform would also require them killing off an entire development team which is dedicated to building out the service for devs. We’ll have to wait and see what the announcements are.