Opinion/Analysis: Facebook’s Own Apps Shamed by Platform Developers

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Facebook LogoFacebook’s Application strategy, which we’ve covered in detail in the past, was intended to bring in users and open new revenue streams for the company. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted when he announced the platform at f8 in May, there would, however, be developers making apps that compete with Facebook’s own, and Facebook was willing to accept and encourge that.

For the traditional applications such as ‘Photos’ and ‘Videos,’ alternative apps aren’t a huge problem — they add to Facebook’s core feature set. But the question arises: in the openly open platform it is, when are there going to be apps that truly contradict Facebook’s strategies — that is, limit their revenue stream and hurt their integral aspects — and what should be done with them? So far, only a month through the launch, and we’ve started to a see a couple of very concrete examples of these ‘hostile takeovers.’

Facebook Gifts vs. Free Gifts

In February, Facebook announced the “Gifts” application for their site, enabling users to give icons to friends for $1 per gift. The service was quite popular, beginning with a promotion for one free gift for every user and donations to a breast cancer fund during the month of February. Profits afterwards would go directly to Facebook.

The new Platform, however, has helped to stem the flow of Facebook Gifts. Instead, users are flocking to the Free Gifts application. Now, Facebook users have the option to pay for their gifts or to give free, albeit less well-designed, gifts. Presented with the option, what would you choose? It seems as if Facebookers have already made up their mind, as 1,902,995 people have already added the application.

Facebook Free Gifts

The Plethora of Free Gifts Facebook Users Have Available to Them

Just as with most other Platform applications, it spreads virally. As people are given gifts, they must install the extension to receive them. The application boasts some pretty incredible statistics. Since its beginning, the application has served 4.9 million gifts at an average rate of 19,850 gifts per hour (to see stats, install app, then go here). The developers give the application the attention that Facebook could not, responding to users’ requests for new gifts and uploading them nearly instantaneously.

Facebook Wall vs. Graffiti

The folks that developed the Graffiti application, meanwhile, seem to have supplanted one of Facebook’s key features, the Wall. Artists rejoiced at finally having the opportunity to speak to their friends through images, not text. Additionally, 2,840,851 users have added the application.

Facebook Graffiti

Graffiti’s Drawing Pane

In my travels through Facebook, I’ve seen a significant amount of people minimize their wall in an attempt to get people to strictly express themselves with the Graffiti app. I’ve seen text that would seem fit for the Wall added to Graffiti as well.


Free Gifts allows Facebook users to get what would normally cost $1 for free, while Graffiti replaces the Wall, an integral part of Facebook. While both add interesting functionality to Facebook, they seem to tinker with the original formula. Now, Facebook seems to be keeping quiet about applications that intrude upon their territory. With such widespread adoption, these two applications would have lots of support should Facebook decide to attempt to ban them. Regardless, they both serve as terrific examples of the ingenuity and creativity the new Facebook Platform inspires.

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