During a press conference after the launch of Facebook Platform, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg was asked about differentiation from MySpace. "We just want to share information more efficiently. The platform strategy fits in with this approach. It's not about owning the content or applications. We want users to get the most utility they can out of this stuff."
Facebook is focused on its social graph, connecting users, but so is MySpace. But Facebook's opening up to an older demographic and opening up its platform is a major differentiator, and has made it the new darling of the Web 2.0 crowd. It will be interesting to see how MySpace, which is at least four times the size of Facebook (which claims 24 million users) responds. It won't be easy to duplicate the effort, and it will hard for MySpace not to yearn for social network developer love.
Facebook's exponential growth, doubling users by the end of the year, will come from having developers who flock to the platform. "Until the Facebook Platform there was no other platform for develpers to build full applications on a social net site. It's a leader in that way," Zuckerberg said. Facebook will compete with its developers on applications, but they will have access to all the same tools and code, similar to how salesforce.com has opened its platform.
I asked Zuckerberg whether Facebook would end up acquiring cool companies who develop for the platform. He said it was too early to tell what was going to happen, but he expects to see applications he never expected.
Facebook will be an open platform to the extent that developers can integrate Facebook elements on their own sites.