Last week I asked, "Is Facebook an unsafe environment for business?", questioning CEO Mark Zuckerberg's decision to somewhat ignore developers' concerns for the greater (company) good.
Turns out I wasn't far off in asking that question.
Facebook beat site AllFacebook writes today of grim statistics facing the company: a decline of 15 to 25 percent of traffic to top applications immediately after the redesign.
If you thought the last redesign spelled the death of the Facebook platform, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Last July Facebook released their new design and within a matter of months, widget applications had become a thing of the past. A few of those applications were able to withstand the changes but there’s a grim picture being painted weeks after Facebook's latest redesign.
While LivingSocial and Quiz Monster have become leading developers thanks to the recent changes, many top developers like Slide, RockYou, Familylink.com, and a number of others are getting punished. Many of the top applications have seen a decline in usage of between 15 and 25 percent. Causes, the number one application on the platform (at least for another day when LivingSocial should take the #1 spot), has experienced a 24 percent drop in monthly active users.
The question, of course, is if the drop in traffic is merely temporary. AllFacebook compiled the total monthly active users of the top 50 applications over the past 30 days to determine the net impact. They write:
The result was that there was an insignificant impact. While there was a temporary decline, the total number of monthly active users among the top 50 applications has risen from 317.4 million to 322 million over the past 30 days.
That suggests that there has been a flattening of the top applications. While Causes has lost over 6 million monthly active users, there has simply been a shift of the top 50 applications. It also suggests that there is a shift in what types of applications will be top contenders. By tomorrow, it is expected that Living Social will be king of the hill. That may not last if previous redesigns can be used as an indicator.
So is Facebook losing traffic thanks to the redesign? Probably not. It seems that application developers adapted to the sitewide changes eventually -- which may mean a shift in the top applications on the site, but not a drop in overall engagement.
On the other hand, it remains to be seen what the long-term effect of a constantly changing environment will have on developers. If Facebook keeps trying to reinvent the wheel on a frequent basis, without keeping core aspects of the site constant, both users and developers will be in a daze.
Will developers defect if a solid alternative to Facebook comes around, or is Facebook too far in front of the pack?