The die is cast, the gauntlet thrown… pick your melodramatic metaphor kiddies, but one thing is clear from this afternoon's announcements by Facebook and Bebo — it's war on OpenSocial. Mark Z and his team have correctly judged that OpenSocial is a threat to their burgeoning platform, and have decided that the Facebook API, architectures, tags and methods will be licenseable by any social network. Bebo immediately signed on.
From the Facebook Platform Architecture page:
Developers’ Reception of Facebook Platform
Developers and users alike have embraced Facebook applications. 100,000 Facebook developers are currently building on Facebook Platform, and over 85% of Facebook users have used Facebook applications. Facebook Platform is open to all developers and companies, no matter what their size, goals or technical expertise. Our platform has been proven successful across audiences over the past 16 months, and we want to share the benefits of our work.
Opening up Facebook Platform Architecture
In the next step of opening up Facebook Platform, Facebook is now making its platform architecture available as a model for other social sites. Facebook will even license the Facebook Platform methods and tags for use by other platforms, which means that the 100,000 developers currently building Facebook applications can make their applications available on other social sites with no extra work.
Of course, Facebook Platform will continue to evolve. And by enabling our industry partners to use what we’ve learned, everyone benefits — users have a better social experience no matter where they are on the web, developers can make their applications available to new audiences, and social sites can offer more applications for their platform.
To clarify how you can use Facebook Platform as a model, we’re including some example FBML tag implementations, and also offer our test consoles and full documentation. Take a look at the High Level FBML Specification.
If you’d like to license the Facebook Platform methods or tags for your social site, please contact the Facebook Platform team at email@example.com.
Neat move, guys. You can just hear the conversations at all the major social networks: "Why wait for OpenSocial applications to be delivered sometime next year? Let's just use the Facebook platform and access the work of the 100,000 developers who have already delivered over 10,000 applications into the Facebook environment." And you can imagine similar conversations at application developers: "Gee, maybe targeting Facebook is all we have to do!"
Microsoft must be soiling themselves at their good fortune over having bought into Facebook and their strategy. Presumably it means that the tools that the Microsoft developer group have been developing for Facebook are now just that much more valuable.
And in MountainView one can scarce imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth over this development.
Perhaps it's time to open a Bebo account and check it out.