Back in 2007, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook Platform to developers, promising that it would allow them to build applications that could tap Facebook’s social graph, access its users, and essentially compete on a level playing field with tools from Facebook itself.
Very little of that happened. As PandoDaily’s Hamish McKenzie explains in a long feature, Facebook kept moving the goalposts on developers who accepted its challenge—adding competitive new features of its own here, for instance, or revoking access to key programming interfaces (i.e., APIs) there. All this amounts to a huge missed opportunity, McKenzie argues—one that could have put Facebook on an even footing with Google and Apple.
As McKenzie writes:
If you had to boil it down to one sentence, you could say that Facebook’s platform never reached its potential because of the company’s complicated and mercurial relationship with developers. Over the years, Facebook has exhibited a pattern of capriciousness that has eroded developers’ faith in the idea that the platform could be a stable environment on which to build a business. Whether it be through too-sweeping rule changes that penalized trustworthy apps for the sins of a few bad actors, or disregard for expectations about what it would or wouldn’t build itself, Facebook created a situation that, for many, proved untenable.