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Facebook's no Google, says Naughton

John Naughton had a good hype-busting run at the idea that Facebook is the next Google in his Observer column yesterday. While his conclusion may be stark for Facebookers...

If I were Facebook's owners, I'd try and flog it to Yahoo while there's still time. Then I'll cancel my membership and move on to something more interesting.

...it is a very interesting dissection of company's prospects.

My own view is that my first few weeks of Facebook were a whirlwind romance - so easy to get going, so may little useful features -  but that I've run into a bit of a wall right now.

It's not effortlessly useful enough to become my de facto home page.

It's not quite a Friends Reunited for 2007 - I'm still engaged. But I have sense it may not evolve fast enough or be open enough...

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It's a great way to keep in touch with friends. Nothing more, nothing less imho.

For me, Facebook is interesting and exciting because it's a platform, not just a service. Facebook is certainly fun for the first few weeks while you build your network and explore the system, but a platform in itself is only a foundation. It's the applications that run on top of it that make it worthwhile. It's a lot like installing Mac OSX or Windows Vista: Until you install some useful applications to run on the platform, it's practically useless.

The Facebook platform is still only a couple of months old and so the applications that run on it are fairly simple. The Zombie and Foodfight applications are the Facebook equivalent of Solitaire and Minesweeper on Windows. It will take time for complex applications to be be developed, and I'm certain that the platform will become more open as well.

I think there are a huge number of great ideas for social networking applications out there which would be useful to users, but would never take off in their own space because of the overhead of users having to create a profile, invite their friends and create their network. The Facebook platform gives application developers a social network that's ready to go, thereby removing this overhead and allowing all sorts of innovative applications to become a reality.

True enough, Tom - we'll give it some time, eh?

I think I have to agree with Stephen that the developer platform will be key to Facebook's future. If handled sensitively it will provide that new functionality you’re after but I think many people are pretty happy with what the site allows them to do at present.

There is an interesting generational issue here in that my cousins who are in their teens are flitting about between three different networks aimed at their age group, whereas at the moment anyone over the age of 25 is arguably pretty much stuck with Facebook or MySpace. In terms of a competitor for the 25 and over, I think LinkedIn has huge potential to 'cross-over' if it ditches its frustrating 1997-esque interface for something more akin to Facebook.

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