Wednesday, February 6

Strategic Heavy Weights

Wow, 2008 has begun with a bang, following some late action in '07. The big digital guns are playing a game of top-trumps to make the most informed acquisitions and strategic moves.

Google's "hand" includes:

- Bids for Wireless spectrum in the US
- Google Universal search
- Google Mobile (Android Software Dev Kit)
- Google Open Social

Yahoo has been busy shutting services down and consolidating its position, whilst Microsoft, the slumbering giant, has been licking its lips at the prospect of Microsoft-Yahoo double-team.

Whilst these are huge plays, the big one for me at this moment is Facebook, and their "open" application platform. By allowing developers to create applications (and retain revenue generated from them) last year Facebook made a subtle master-stroke. (subtle because it was ignored by the competition). But in recognition of awakening industry competition (G Open Social, MySpace, Bebo), Facebook's move to allow these apps to run across other sites may make them the defacto platform....

...A whole profitable and creative industry has been created out of these Facebook apps, so allowing them to be unleashed on the long-tail of personal sites is a master-stroke. e.g. fancy adding a fun-wall to your blog?..Other platforms will probably be more open, more flexible, less controlled, but Facebook has first-mover advantage, and that could be the key to success.

If the future goes this way, Facebook becomes a distributed data platform, rather than a social-network per se. A platform for distributed widget advertising, in much the same way that Google's Adsense is the defacto contextual ad network.

Facebook's success in this gameplan depends entirely on getting us bloggers and publishers to start plugging in their apps to our pages. They have enough audience and apps to do so. But they'll need to be fast, because Google along with MySpace have a bigger audience to seed the same strategy through.

It's the HD/Blue-Ray (or BetaMax vs VHS) of online. A top-trumps battle to own the dominant platform by the industry heavy-weights. First blood to Facebook. But we, "user", will decide.

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