The race to build a “Platform within the Platform” is on

On Friday morning, RockYou announced an API for its SuperWall application (which currently has about 3.2 million installations), pitching it to developers as a new way to distribute content and drive application installs. It works by enabling you to put a “Share with Friends” button anywhere on Facebook or the web that will allow users that have SuperWall installed to share your content on it. The sharer would not need to have your application installed to spread your content. Props to the RockYou team for being one of the first out with an application API!

Facebook application APIs signal the beginning of the second movement of the Platform “Big Bang,” which I think you could think of as the “Platform within the Platform” rush. Applications with millions of users will soon enable APIs that offer other developers the opportunities to extend their applications and gain distribution in an attempt to become a kind of “platform” themselves.

As a result, over the coming months we will likely see the formation of layers or even webs of “platform-like” applications within Facebook. This will quickly create a rather complex application dependency graph and a rather complex ecosystem of application-application and application-user relationships.

No longer merely “applications,” software like SuperWall will share some of the risks and value of platformhood with Facebook. Just as Facebook is constantly evolving its API, has developed a terms of service for its API, and is cultivating trust with a developer community, so too must “platform application” companies like RockYou. At the same time, these “platform applications” will always remain subject to the terms and rules of the Facebook platform itself.

I am curious to see if any “platform application” companies beat Facebook to the punch on some obviously lacking Platform services… Will Facebook ever prohibit certain “platform-like” application features as part of the Platform TOS? I don’t believe so. Facebook still has a lot to gain from developers who not only build new applications, but also extend the Platform itself.


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6 Responses to “The race to build a “Platform within the Platform” is on”

  1. Scott says:

    Too bad SuperWall and all the other RockYou apps are so spammy. They’ve all got huge ads to install other apps while sending users to an “Invite your Friends” screen upon install. I really hope this trend dies down because it really confuses and degrades the whole app experience. Also, I believe this API within an API stunt is something to mask that fact that Super Wall is now obsolete. Facebook upgraded the traditional wall to match the features of SuperWall.

  2. Justin Lee says:

    haha ‘platform within platform’.. what’s next? ‘platform within platform within platform’? the massive recursion that follows will soon see memory run out…

    it’s definitely a strategy to ‘leech’ off facebook. that’s what most developers want to do anyway. everyone wants to build their own empire…

  3. Today's Facebook Links | Take A Peck says:

    [...] The Race to Build a Platform within the Platform is On – Facebook application APIs signal the beginning of the second movement of the Platform “Big Bang” [...]

  4. Julian Bond says:

    Where’s the External facing API? Compare and contrast the API ecosystem around Twitter with that around Facebook.

    Facebook is a black hole. It sucks everything in and lets nothing out.

  5. Alan Wilensky says:

    THere is no doubt that the next killer application for whiteboxed social media engines will be in the vertical B2B systems for technical product support.

  6. Privacy Theater: Why Social Networks Only Pretend To Protect You | Family Learning Center says:

    [...] in, and the good guys are being driven out by the bad guys (spammy apps, scammy apps, sneaky apps, conniving [...]

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