I think it's a fad on facebook and may not even make it to fad status on myspace.
the 1% of people who would develop an application probably have .00000001% of the friends on MySpace. Face it as much as I'd like to believe otherwise, the "tech-inclined" aren't exactly the most social people.
Present company excluded of course :)
Whilst certain applications are fads on Facebook (think zombies and ninjas etc), others are very useful and fun (scrabulous). I think they are what keep facebook fresh and interesting.
If you have a good idea for a community application, it's much quicker to get users for it on facebook than launching it on the web alone.
If you are launching a web 2.0 type of website now, without a facebook (or soon myspace) counterpart then you are seriously missing out.
They are only fads as much as web 2.0 itself is a fad.
It's not a fad. 99% of applications will be crap, just like 99% of websites out there are crap. But for those who do it right, well there will be a lot of money to be made.
This thing is just beginning..
In 10 years how many social sites will be as effective and popular as facebook? Should you invest your development money on chasing the latest greatest social popular site? That can fold tomorrow? Or focus on your site?
When blogs got big, people reduced their "investment" in speaking on forums. And these are just regular folks who don't always make a living from what they write. Sooner or later websites will feel the same way about facebook/myspace etc.
There will be room for facebook style apps, sure. But investing in your site is a much safer bet and you won't regret that as much as investing and depending on facebook's success and coopertaion with your app. What if microsoft buys them and shuts down third party apps? (Just an example. There are many scenarios that can throw your investment down the drain.)
[edited by: Clark at 9:10 pm (utc) on Oct. 18, 2007]
From what I understand, making Facebook applications is pretty cheap and reasonably quick.
I think throwing a bit of investment at these applications now is good business sense - even if it is just to use them as a viral marketing tool.
Does anyone here have a ten year plan for their website, other than building a better brand/bigger user base?
Clark, I agree with you that you shouldn't focus all your energy on these applications, but I don't think you should ignore them either.
A coherent strategy is required and that includes considering all the platforms - computer browsers, mobile browsers, social network applications, tv browsers, email, feed readers, desktop widgets, internet homepages (iGoogle etc).
I think you should try to be represented as widely as possible. Of course, some businesses wont find every platform appropriate.
Clark, I couldn't disagree with you more. The best way to build up your destination site is to build out your distributed presence - through things like widgets, Facebook apps, apis, toolbars, etc. With SEO getting more commoditized and the top sites absorbing a greater share of the web's sessions, everybody else is losing ground.
The only answer is to bring your site to the users.
If you are dependent on those tactics and sites to survive, you will always need to chase the latest and greatest social site and I don't envy you. Not the easiest way to make it. Because you haven't built something strong enough to stand on its own.
If you are a top destination and have enough cash to put a team on or two on these things, then go for it. I'd view it similar to advertising.