Added universal applications means higher latency for facebook

24 04 2008

For those of you that are logging onto facebook for the first time today may have noticed a chat application widget on the bottom of your screen acting as a secondary footer bar. For some of you, you may have seen it 2 weeks ago. For others, today was the first day you have the ability to stay on facebook and chat with your friends. I think there are some major issues with this application which is why I changed my facebook status to be rather “underwhelmed”. My major issues are outlined below:

  • Latency – By adding a whole new component that is insanely dynamic to the presentation layer of facebook, they increase latency, or the time it takes for components on the page to load. The key to facebook’s success, in my opinion, has been it’s ability to be extremely fast – at least faster than it’s competitors like friendster. I’m not 100% sure if it’s variable by friend sizes – i.e. the more friends you have the longer time it takes to load.
  • Filtering – Instant messaging, in my opinion, is a personal to personal interaction. I think the fundamental problem with chat on facebook is that I’m friends with many people I don’t want to chat with. There are numerous people on facebook that I meant once or twice that I would probably never IM, but I have no way of filtering them out. A feature should be added to place your most recent contacts to the top.
  • Invisibility – I know that being invisible is actually a very tough feature to build out. There is probably a reason why GTalk took over a year to build it. Building it within a browser is very difficult especially with high refresh rates. That being said, you have to launch a product that is up to standard – especially when you make something available to your entire network. If you don’t you’ll start getting complaints like Arrington on Techcrunch who, in my opinion, is simply being arrogant about people that IM him.

So what are the major advantages of adding chat on facebook? It does a couple of things to really make everything tightly integrated:

  • Longer session periods – You have more eyes staring at facebook for a longer period of time. That means higher prices for ads assuming they track their session lengths. If an average user was spending 5 minutes on facebook before, conversations with friends can extend that to 7-8 minutes. If you show an ad that lives on a browser for that long, more often than not a user will notice it.
  • Beacon integration – Perhaps chat can serve as the savior to the beacon integration. I say that because chat allows further probing into a users intent and can ideally provided targeted ads based on content and friends. It can be as simple as noticing how many times a user communicates with another user and serving targeted ads in the background to their common interests. Adding chat gives them another dimension to market on.

Unfortunately, both suggestions above will not work if they solve for the issues described in the beginning of this post. If this slows down my facebook “stalking” sessions, I’ll be more than happy to disable the chat function. It truly would be sad if I ended up treating the brand new chat application as another spam group message and throwing it right in the trash.

I’m pretty sure Zuckerburg wouldn’t be too happy….

Just my $.02…

-SD





facebook is about to get a face lift….pun intended.

27 02 2008

Facebook is notorious for its quick changes to the site keeping it very lean and user friendly. After this huge change…I’m not sure if they will be loved by all….

Check out the new page:

and also this…..

 

 

What do you all think? Leaner way of showing content – reduces page views – always keeps the profile pic on the side….

But the big question is…where are you going to keep your applications…i.e. play scrabbleicious…

Love to get your thoughts…

$.02…

-SD





Has facebook reached it’s tipping point?

22 02 2008

I love ComScore. I think they’re one of the best online data analytics sites in the business and they do a fantastic job at tracking user behavior on sites, something that I work on quite a bit. One of the major questions everyone had when facebook launched was whether it was just a fad or are people still going to keep visiting the site at the levels they are used to.

For instance, when Facebook launched at my university, I think there was a temporary hiatus from school for about a week. Everyone was fascinated with the concept of browsing people for endless periods of time. One of the things that I would love to do is to monitor the user behavior at facebook. Users tend to look at their profile, click on a friend’s profile, go back to their profile and stay within the confines of facebook. It’s not like a Google or Yahoo where you go to the hubs to get diverted to other content driven web pages.

What is interesting is the facebook has gone down since 2008 started in terms of usage and page views. Check out some of the graphs in terms of total unique visitors:

This graph is only meant for the US – not internationally. Worldwide, Facebook is doing very well due to the expanding countries it’s being available to.

One interesting thing about the graph is that in Jan 07, there was a dip in usage as well.   Perhaps users were making new years resolutions to use facebook less….

Do you see yourself in a year using facebook the same amount that you have been?

$.02..

 

-SD





Social Networking 3.0?

20 08 2007

A couple of scientists from the United Kingdom have come up with a way to combine social networking with Bluetooth technology.  The technology works in the following way.  Suppose you are minding your own business and walking down the street and happen to be within bluetooth range of another user.  Immediately, your cell phone will detect the other phone and transfer data which will give the other persons user profile.  Once you get back home, you can transfer this data back into your own computer to look up the person/access the profile.

Now this is simply the technology which has been discovered.  There is no company jumping on the bandwagon to get this type of feature installed.  I can only assume that whatever company decides to implement this type of feature must know be ready to handle the privacy features.  Most users, including myself, would probably disable a feature that would be able to have anyone get access to my user profile.  That being said, this could be effective more as a locating device than a social networking tool.  Perhaps in a crowded area, you can search for a specific phone within bluetooth range to be able to find one another.  Then again, you are using a phone and you could simply call them.

If this is the future technology of social networking, I think we may need to stop at 2.0.

Just my $.02…

-SD





Craig Ulloit just hit the jackpot

17 08 2007

You’ve probably never heard of this guy before, but you’ve definitely seen/used his application. The little application that you see on facebook entitled “Where I’ve been” was sold this morning to travel site TripAdvisor for a whopping $3 million dollars.

I’ll let you soak that in because Craig probably spent less than half a day setting up the mapping API and making sure a user can easily drag and drop their locations on the app. But there are much greater implications than simply the dollar amount. Craig is the pioneer in the facebook platform that, if successful, can create a plethora of deals simply to obtain a user base at such high values. What facebook is so good at doing is understanding the value of traffic in today’s internet. If the developers can tap into it, there is no stopping them.

In my opinion, it’s awesome to see the geeky developer hit it rich even though he struggles to maintain servers for all of his users. With deals like this, I feel comfortable knowing that the internet is still an open playing field where anyone can really strike it big.

Is it just me or does it feel a bit like 2000 again.

Just my $.02…

-SD





Facebook 2.0

23 05 2007

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the lack of blogging in the past month. For once, I can blame the lack of internet usage due to my hardware problems. With my hard drive failing, I had to use alternative resources to revive my laptop. Purchasing a $400 laptop hard drive was not in my budget, but paying 10% of that from a seller in Seattle was something that was…thanks eBay (shameless plug).

A lot has happened since the last time in my blog. Google purchased DoubleClick for an insane amount of money. Just when you thought that no one would one up that, Microsoft shows their muscle by purchasing the equivalent company for $6 billion. Rumors have been spreading that Microsoft is in talks with Yahoo for a possible merger/takeover. I’m not sure if this is actually true, but we’ll see. The next three months should be interesting.

But I’m not here to speak about the real big guns like Yahoo, Google, MSFT, and eBay. I’m here to talk about the young company that has defied every stereotype of a web 2.0 company and has reverted to the classical model of forging the path on its own. After Google established itself, relatively later than some of the other companies, no company has really sought to go public (successfully anyway). Facebook, however, has had a very interesting history going against analyst expectations. Let’s take a quick revisit of the history of Facebook.

It began as a frustrated student from Harvard couldn’t properly find information about another student on campus. (I felt the same way about my PH system but I didn’t think of the billion dollar idea at the time…sigh). After starting out at the IVY League schools, it began to expand schools around the nation. When facebook came to Northwestern for instance, it was the middle of midterms week. I’m pretty sure the school’s average decreased due to the productivity killer that facebook was. Zuckerberg drops out of Harvard, moves to the valley, yada yada yada, rumor to sell to Yahoo for $750 million, $1.2 Billion, but no go…the rest is history.

So what now? For a company that has done so much for its users – what more can it do? How does a young company like this stay “cool” to a demographic that gets bored with something quicker than making a TV dinner. I have a couple of ideas that not only apply to Facebook – but any new company searching for its niche.

Reinventing the wheel on the same car is not a bad thing.

Facebook tested the waters by launching Newsfeed and saw the repercussions of their actions. Essentially they learned “you don’t mess with people’s privacy settings.” That being said, you do need to do something new in order to keep users interested. Now if you poll a group of students, they would probably tell you that they hate change regarding sites. This is a case, however, where users don’t necessarily know what is best for them.  Newsfeed, for instance, was a genius way to reduce the number of page views for Facebook.  Though they were up in arms about it, once given control, it has become a way of life in browsing Facebook.

The coolest thing I’ve found about Facebook is it’s intelligent updating of Newsfeed.  If you randomly browse someones profile that you haven’t seen, their information is much more likely to pop up on your Newsfeed.  This is done to:

  • create a hierarchical structure of indexing what users want (tagging)
  • properly utilize the top 20 items on Newsfeed, proper structuring

This structuring is something that is seen very often in repeated paging of various content.  For instance, you’ll see it a lot in video games, computer graphics, and backgrounds of programs.  To see it with information is something very unique.

Entering new spaces builds your base

Facebook launched its own “marketplace” last week.  Social Networking establishes connections that are otherwise not their in eBay or Craigslist.  The comfort factor of having a relationship with someone that you are doing business with is not to be overlooked.  EBay has been successful in my opinion because there did not exist an alternative platform to do business with your friends.  That being said, I think the transactions between Facebook friends will be more of convenience versus pure business.  Nonetheless, Facebook can charge for transaction fees and advertisements for revenue sources.

Facebook also has the ability to take a bit of a myspace approach by integrating music into their profiles.  Crucial to any social networking site is the ability to give all types of information about a person.  MySpace was started as a music site to be able to launch young music careers.  Facebook has the network to fulfill this niche.

The sky is the limit

Facebook can do whatever it wants in the future.  Ultimately, it can expand further, reinvent its site every so often, but it needs to get a steady source of revenue with high growth possibilities.  Ultimately, this means clever partnerships with big companies to integrate its contact lists with software applications.  These deals will be crucial for Facebook to go “2.0.”

Just my $.02…

-SD





Facebook enters the big league by getting more open

3 04 2007

Facebook released a program called “Thrift” yesterday to seamlessly transition between different programming languages with easy integration.  Now it’s been known that companies have programs like these in house, but none of them have released them for wide use among the public.  Facebook, almost as a declaration that they’re in the big leagues, released this tool for wide use ideally setting a precedent for other companies to follow suit.

I do have to say that open source friendly companies like Mozilla have been extremely beneficial for the Internet in general.  The obvious advantage of an open source platform is essentially free advertisement and usage of the site on alternate websites.  Additionally, developers can build tools that sometimes that can be implemented by the company itself.  Famous platforms like Microsoft, Intuit, and Red Hat have an extremely loyal developer group that constantly provides feedback to the companies themselves.  In essence, they act as third party employees for the major corporation.

Every successful Internet/software company has a thriving developer community.  Two summers ago, I did a research project at PayPal on how to increase developer usage on their platform.  One of the major things I found in the study was that the highest usage for API implementation occurred when users were excited with the product.  Obviously in my case, payments isn’t necessarily the sexiest product out there, but more of a functional platform for users to build their businesses on.  Google Maps API for instance, which had released two summers ago, immediately garnered high response rates as people would integrate bus schedules for certain cities using maps.

Facebook’s tool will be awesome for the average developer, but will it create a rise in users on their platform?  My guess is not really…and the tool isn’t meant to really increase their platform usage.  I do know that social networking API’s can be an effective tool in marketing to mass audiences, something that we’ve started to see.

All in all, facebook made a big move today and I applaud them for providing this tool to developers.  Ideally, there efforts will garner higher usage and cool products to use in the future.

Just my $.02…

-SD