How big do I think the launch of the Facebook developer platform is? As Jay-Z might have once said, Orca big. It's going to be huge. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can read a bit more about it here. The basic premise, though, is that Facebook is allowing third party developers access to its API. This will allow them to develop new applications, widgets, and who knows what for the social media site. Even amateurs are getting hip the game.
I don't know what the exact statistics are (and measurement tools seem to be constantly shifting), but no matter which way you look at it Facebook is already one of the biggest sites out there. Do you know anyone that doesn't know about it if, by the odd chance, they aren't already a user? How often do you walk by someone's computer at work, in a coffee shop, or anywhere, to see the familiar blue and white of Facebook? How often do you check your own account?
Allowing developers to create new applications will do nothing but drive more traffic to the site. While I'm sure that Facebook doesn't actually care if people use their photo-sharing app or a third-party one, this isn't where the real weight of the developer platform is. It isn't in the increased advertising revenue Facebook will probably receive either.
Its the fact that it will probably change the way we use personal computers, and its one step closer to the social media aggregator that I've been gagging for for so long.
Even though Mark Zonkberg and his team have probably been tossing this idea around for a while (explaining why he turned down $1 billion from Yahoo!), I'm sure they don't even know what the full potential of their creation is. With their recent announcements, Project Agape and Obama's campaign are really just taking the first foamy sips of beer at what is going to be the social media keg party of the year. (MyRagan will be like the AV club that didn't get invited, MySpace will be like your friend's slutty little sister that you'll hit on if you're around but don't really care about in the long run because she isn't very smart).
Forget donating for political campaigns and humanitarian causes (not that there is anything wrong with the latter), I want to be able to do my online money-managing through my banks Facebook application. If I have a problem, I'll be able to have one of the bank's employees on my friend list. Transparency will be an issue, it's true, but it will go a long way towards bringing the social part of social media to the corporations.
Forget the fact that new phones come complete with web browsers. The next gen will have Facebook browsers with functions that will update your location (via GPS) in real time on your newsfeed (whoa...stalkerlicious). Click on a friends profile, and you'll be able to get directions to their house or current location from wherever you are (or not, depending on their privacy settings. Phew!).
And as I said, that is just the start of it. We'll probably wake up from this Facebook party in a year or two with dim memories of the crazy stuff that went down. But then, as we're having a big greasy breakfast, slightly hungover and talking about how the bubble has burst again, we'll get a text message on our phone. The next great thing will be here, and someone else will be having a party. Of course, we won't want to miss out, will we?
I'd love to hear what others have to say about all this, and I'm really hoping that some of it is discussed at Toronto's mesh conference(disclosure: the company that I work for is a mesh sponsor). If you're there, try and find me to say hello!