Yesterday Facebook showed what a mature and stable partner they have become. At F8, their annual developers conference, they made the following announcements which make me comfortable that entrepreneurs building businesses on top of Facebook face relatively little platform risk. Here’s the list of announcements, taken from a GigaOM post:
- Facebook’s “stable platform” guarantees: Developers will have a 2-year Core API stability guarantee, and the company promises to remedy platform bugs within 48 hours.
- Facebook’s platform will now support app versions, allowing developers to push different builds over time.
- Changes to Facebook Log In give users line-by-line control over the information shared within apps, including apps downloaded by friends of friends.
- Anonymous Log In: Users will now be able to log in anonymously to apps and “test drive” services before turning over information to an app.
- Facebook’s Parse has now lowered pricing, offering developers more free options to build their apps.
- Parse Local Data Store will allow developers to create offline experiences for mobile apps.
- Parse announced AppLinks, a live, open-source SDK that provides seamless browsing to URLs from within apps.
- Facebook’s Send to Mobile offers users the option to send app links to a mobile phone from the desktop.
- The Mobile Like button gives users the ability to “Like” things on mobile, even without Facebook log-in enabled.
- Message Referrals, which works within Messenger, provides rich links to be shared within the app.
- FB Start: Facebook’s newest developer program offers up to $30,000 in tools for startups looking to grow their apps on Facebook.
- Facebook Advertising Network: The final announcement at F8, Facebook’s Advertising Network allows developers to serve mobile ads and interstitials backed by Facebook’s targeting data.
Google is the only other internet company with a similarly mature platform. Twitter and others aspire to join them but aren’t there yet, and working with emergent platforms carries the risk that the platform won’t thrive, and/or the platform company will choose to bolster profits by eating it’s own ecosystem (remember Twitter doing that to all the Twitter client companies?). The irony for entrepreneurs, of course, is that all the hot companies on new platforms dive in early and expose themselves to the platform risks just mentioned. Evaluating the platform risk for these sorts of companies should be a key part of due diligence for investors.
As a side note, the anonymous log in announcement might just turn out to be very significant. If Facebook implement it in the right way, and with total integrity, then they are in a good position to become the universal login service for huge parts of the internet.