I was rather amused to read an article on TechCrunch couple of days ago under the title “Could Facebook Become The Next Microsoft?” The writer Duncan Riley went onto write that Facebook is going to be the next Microsoft on the web world. Before you read my review on the article, I suggest you read Duncan Riley’s article on TechCrunch here
Everybody knows about Microsoft and Facebook. I will give a brief introduction about both Companies, so this article will make more sense to the reader
Microsoft is the leading Operating Systems and software manufacturer in the world. Thousands of companies depend on Microsoft’s to make their revenue by developing third party software for their Operating Systems. Furthermore, there are millions of people and companies who uses Microsoft Software and Operating Systems are familiarised with products and rely on them.
Facebook is a Social Networking Website with some nifty features. These features being, third party applications. This means Facebook will not run the third party applications on their servers, the Facebook Platform is able to communicate with third party applications running on external servers which are not under the control of Facebook, Which means Facebook allows you to pipe information through their API (Application Programming Interface).If you want to know more about how this system works, you should have a read here from Facebook Developers.
The author of this article Duncan Riley only concentrated on the Facebook Applications which are supported mostly by third parties and he went onto directly compare it with Microsoft. He is directly comparing Microsoft based third party applications (i.e. Software made by other companies, for example Adobe, AutoDesk, Symantec) with Facebook applications. His argument being, If Facebook could control the third party applications like Microsoft is controlling other software developers, then one day Facebook will be the next Microsoft and have some kind of Web OS.
He is pretty much confused the fact that Facebook being a platform will offer opportunities to third party developers. But you need to think about the target audience. Most of the people are forced to use Microsoft Operating Systems and some of its Software…You can argue the fact that it is not true, but if you analyse the situation, you will think otherwise. In the years Microsoft has created an environment where most of the users are forced to use their products.
One main difference being, the users of Facebook have a choice; they have chose to use Facebook, so the target audience of Facebook is far less compared to Microsoft. When it comes to Applications, Facebook pretty much have control over it, but when you compare it to Microsoft and their party applications, it is not the case. By law, Microsoft is forced to work with third party software makers. This is a huge advantage on the software developers side, Microsoft can’t just stop you from making software for their Operating Systems because they don’t like it, or they think you are making more profit from it. This is different when it comes to Facebook, they can just stop you, simple as that. There is no law to protect the third party application makers.
Since Facebook is a web platform, there are a huge security concerns when it comes to third party applications. This is why they don’t let them run it on their servers, otherwise they would get hacked within minutes. The third party applications run on external servers and piped through the Facebook API. This means, the applications will be slow depending on the server / connection it is in… When the external server is down or something wrong with the route between the Facebook servers and the external application servers, it will not work. So, the people who are going to get affected are the end users.
My conclusion being, you can’t just go and compare Microsoft with a Social Networking site with some addons. It is pretty stupid of the writer to go and compare a Software Giant with a website which allows external applications. An average user might think he has a point, but when you analyse the facts, the author is completely wrong!
You can’t just go ahead and compare cats and dogs because they have four legs.