Facebook is a combination of Web 2.0 companies. That’s one way to look at it. The flip side – and more accurate – is to say that there are many Web 2.0 companies that are taking a piece or feature of Facebook and making an entire service out of it. Not the most original strategy, but it does seem to work (at least for some).
Obviously the core pieces of Facebook have been companies already and are very common features around the web. Features such as:
- Facebook Mail: this feature is exactly like regular mail applications and the FB version of mail is becoming more like traditional email every day. You can send mail to anyone (even if they’re not on FB) and soon be able to receive mail there too.
- Photos: Facebook has the largest photo service on the web and deservedly so as they took the traditional album upload sites like Snapfish/oPhoto and made them social.
- Events: They made a much better and easier to use Evite service.
These features have been around for a while, so it’s nothing new that they’ve also been standalone companies. The new services are the interesting ones. What i’m thinking of in particular is:
- Facebook Share: This is a feature that let’s people post items they see around the web on to their facebook profile. New services such as Tumblr let you repost things very easily too. Don’t call it a blog b/c it’s much more lightweight but it is really more or a repost feature with comments – like the Share.
- Facebook Status: What are you doing right now? This feature has been around on FB for a long time and now the company Twitter has taken that made it more mainstream, with an API and with other features. In fact, i’ve already blogged about how the two are the same.
- News Feed: The Facebook News Feed is essentially an RSS reader of your friend’s activity. This concept is not lost on everyone else and a few companies are focusing directly on that. Specifically Plaxo & FriendFeed. They allow you to enter in sites that capture your activity and then they repost it to your friends.
Whether these services can survive as standalone applications, i’m not sure. I’m somewhat doubtful that there is a business there, but if you can get an audience doing these things, you should be able to monetize it.
Obviously, Facebook is not going to build a feature better than a standalone service can (although they often do), but they are able to integrate it into everything they offer. Items like Events work well on Facebook because they are easily shared and posted around FB. This “threading” is crucial for their success. Ultimately Facebook won’t win in trying to be everything to everybody, but they at least have to try to be most of the core services all in one place – and in this respect FB does a great job.