Facebook opens to third-party developers
Founder says move is similar to what Microsoft did decades ago
Facebook Inc. is encouraging other companies to sell products and create
software for use on the popular social networking site, hoping to expand into an
all-purpose destination on the Web.
The company's 23-year-old founder
and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said Thursday the move was similar to what
Microsoft Corp. did decades ago, when the relatively obscure software maker
began encouraging third-party companies to write programs for its personal
computer operating system. The strategy made Microsoft phenomenally profitable
and helped turn founder Bill Gates - like Zuckerberg, a Harvard University
dropout - into world's richest man.
"Until now, social networks have
been closed platforms," Zuckerberg told about 750 programmers attending the
company's first developer conference, dubbed f8. "We're going to end that."
The Palo Alto-based startup has so
far recruited about 65 companies to create software for the Facebook Platform,
which will be opened up to any company starting Thursday night.
The best known third-party
contributor so far is e-commerce powerhouse Amazon.com Inc., which is allowing
Facebook members to publish book reviews on their profile pages. The feature
will debut later this week.
Zuckerberg and his Harvard buddy,
Dustin Moskovitz, co-founded Facebook in February 2004. The site was supposed to
be the virtual version of paper "face books" that Harvard and other colleges
distribute to freshmen.
But within a month, the site had
caught on at Stanford, Columbia, and Yale. By December 2004, it had nearly 1
million active users.
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