Facebook application review site FaceReviews.com reports today that there are now more than 10,000 Facebook applications available for the first time. In related news, I now know "what Disney princess I am" thanks to the super-hot app "Which Disney Princess Are You?"
I've believed for some time now that Facebook apps are overhyped. Facebook itself is hot as can be, but I believe that's because of the news feed, privacy controls and the site's look and feel far more than it is attributable to the apps. Many of the apps live entirely on your public-facing profile page instead of the user-facing admin page where your friends' news feed is displayed and where users of Facebook spend their time. Think I'm wrong? Why are there less than 20 Facebook apps that are used on a daily basis by more than 25% of the users who have installed that app. The vast majority of these 10,000 apps are installed and forgotten about.
There are counter-examples of course, not every app is a an insipid/entertaining lightweight. Josh Catone covered his Top 10 Facebook Apps for Work here on RWW in July. Geek artist Clay Newton says "Scrabulous is the new golf," meaning I suppose, that serious people do it together for fun. (Newton says the golf concept was FaceReviews' Rodney Rumford's idea.) The Where I've Been app lets people map their travels and was rumored to have been acquired for millions of dollars - but that was just one more wacky rumor as far as I can tell. The Causes application has seen a lot of adoption in the nonprofit world. Curt Hopkins of the Committee to Protect Bloggers has used it to make membership in his loose organization, but says it is "buggier than the underside of an old carpet."
It's a heated debate. A lot of people agree with me that these apps are all hype, a lot of people ar almost personally offended that I would talk smack about their semi-high-brow diversions (it's not like this is MySpace we're talking about! It's almost like LinkedIn!) Facebook analytics site Adonomics offers valuations for Facebook apps and says in aggregate that the 10k+ apps have a total valuation of more than $500 million. Adonomics says, though, that the total valuation of Facebook itself is a far greater $16.8 billion. Marshall says, though, that those numbers are insane.
Love 'em or hate 'em - how do you feel about Facebook apps? Have you taken out loans against your house and kids to pay developers to build one that will make you millions? Will OpenSocial reduce this once great ecosystem to just a spec in the larger social networking universe? What does it all mean?