Facebook is holding a massive press/developer event today in San Francisco to officially launch Facebook Platform. 750 or so people are here.
A number of third party applications will also be announced, including Microsoft, Amazon, Slide, RockYou, Box.net, Red Bull, Washington Post, Project Agape, Prosper, Snapvine, iLike, PicksPal, Digg, Plum and others. Seventy companies in total are currently developing applicaitons. Mark Zuckerberg goes on stage at 3 pm to make the official announcement, and I’ll be blogging live from here.
Facebook is giving an unprecedented amount of access to developers. The API would allow, for example, a third party to recreate Facebook Photos, the most used photo application on the web. Users could then remove the default Facebook Photos and install the third party version instead.
Applications can serve their own ads and/or conduct transactions with users. Ads can basically be shown anywhere that Microsoft ads are not currently shown.
There will be a special applications area on Facebook where users can browse and add third party apps. But there is also a crucial viral component - when a friend adds an application, it is noted in their news stream on their profile. Clicking on the item brings you to the app, where you can add and/or interact with it yourself.
Users will also be adding applications to their site, where others can click and add it to their own profile. The apps will essentially look like any other Facebook application.
The payoff is two way. Not only do developers get deep access to Facebook’s twenty million users, Facebook also becomes a rich platform for third party applications.
Facebook’s strategy is almost the polar opposite from MySpace. While MySpace frets over third party widgets, alternatively shutting them down or acquiring them, Facebook is now opening up its core functions to all outside developers.