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Why developers are leaving the Facebook platform, by Andrew Chen

Stashed in: Facebook!, Growth Hacks!, Hacker News!, Mobile Dev!

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Andrew Chen summarizes why developers have increasingly left the Facebook platform for other platforms:

  • Lack of virality
  • Higher ad rates
  • Constant retooling
  • Competition
  • The feed is finite
  • Mobile platforms are the new sexy opportunities

So the GROWTH HACK is to spend the time you would have spent with Facebook integration on something else entirely.

Facebook Platform is dying. Stick a fork in it.

My favorite notes while reading that article:

1. Bill Gurley of Benchmark wrote a great piece on how platform companies like Facebook, iOS, Android, eBay, and others manage the ecosystem around them.

2. Companies that build on Facebook platform are "uninvestable" according to one prominent VC.

3. "Facebook does a trillion pageviews a month, so it turns out there was a lot of cheap ad inventory. That arbitrage began to fail as ad rates went up. And with decreased virality, the effective cost per customer also went up, because you were getting fewer “free” users as well. So now in 2013, that arbitrage is a lot harder to do profitably."

4. The Facebook Developer Changes page shows how often new things are released. Hint: A lot.

5. Most importantly, the Facebook feed is saturated: "You end up competing with everyone else for a spot on the feed, and it’s a zero-sum game, as Michael Dearing pointed out to me on Twitter. All of this leads to the marketing channel getting saturated, which I’ve written about in my essay Law of Shitty Clickthroughs, and makes the channel less attractive as time goes on."

I love this part of the article:

The feed is finite

Many of the distribution issues on Facebook have to do with the fact that the feed is finite. A person will only look at the first 10 or 20 stories on any given visit, and anything you put into that grouping takes something out. This leads to all sorts of problems, because as users spend more time with Facebook, all sorts of new activity increases:

  • They “like” more pages
  • They add more friends
  • They “subscribe” to more celebrities
  • They try more apps
  • They sign into more apps with Facebook

The signal on Facebook is overwhelmed by the noise.

And that is a problem they cannot fix.

Hacker News thread compares Facebook API to Quicksand:

"He left out an important reason: That Facebook can and will ban apps at will, regardless of whether or not they have actually done anything wrong. IMO, that's probably where the "uninvestable" comment mentioned in the article came from. If you have to wake up every morning wondering if your app that had X million users last night is still alive, that's a big problem."

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