Facebook Aims to Socialize All Online Services

Rob Hof

Facebook, which some of you may still think is a social networking service for college students, is graduating bigtime. Today, it's announcing that more than 65 developers from the likes of Amazon.com, Microsoft, Obama for America, and Warner Bros. Records are developing applications on top of its Facebook Platform. Essentially, those companies are embedding pieces of their applications--like book reviews from Amazon and photo slideshows from Slide--into Facebook itself. Facebook members, who now can include anyone with an email address, can add applications integrated with their existing Facebook services. The idea is to make Facebook even more of a utility for everything people want to do online that benefits from a social component. That's a lot of things.

As Liz Gannes at Gigaom put it nicely, Facebook seems to be attempting to become the online social operating system. More by Dan Farber here. Pretty ambitious stuff indeed. In fact, walking into the huge concourse here in San Francisco, I suddenly wondered if I had stumbled into an Apple event. Too ambitious? Maybe, but no one else has yet taken a big shot at going beyond social networking to injecting a social component into everything people do online.

More to come later if I can get our blogging system to cooperate with the network here....

Update: CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in trademark jeans, sandals, and sweatshirt despite the sweltering room, certainly can't be accused of being shy. "Today, together, we're going to start a movement," he began. He says the "social graph," or the set of relationships among people, is "changing the way the world works." He continues, conjuring up previous examples of platforms such as the PC operating system and the Web browser: "Every once in awhile, a new platform comes along that enables whole new types of applications. Sometimes, it even starts new industries." Yikes. And he's not even wearing a black turtleneck.

Pomposity aside, he has a laudable goal: "Right now, social networks are closed platforms. We're going to change that."

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