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Facebook is the hot new platform to integrate to these days. Yes, I said platform… Facebook isn’t just a MySpace.com clone, but another player in the cloud services space. Everyone from Microsoft & Apple to even Visa wants to have a hooks into this platform. So it begs the question, why?

The first and maybe the most obvious is advertising. While it’s not all that interesting to architects or developers, it is very lucrative to Google and Microsoft for ad revenue. Microsoft invested $240 million in Facebook for the exclusive Ad Center business.

For the rest of the world out there are far more interesting aspects to Facebook. There was a great blog post from Dick Hardt entitled “Passport vs OpenID vs Facebook Connect”. The post hints at some really intriguing ideas. I will expand and introduce some of the thoughts I have had brewing for awhile.

Here are my thoughts on why architects and developers will drive solutions to Facebook in 2009:

  1. Know Thy Customer – Businesses have always struggled with knowing who their customers really are. Past attempts have most all times failed. They ranged from cold calls to customers, internet surveys, proprietary social engines on corporate sites. Facebook offers the social network. This information provides companies that want to integrate with interests, favorite things, friends and a great way  to enable viral marketing. An example of big companies taking advantage of this is Visa with the Visa Business Network.
  2. Identity Framework – While Facebook Connect may not have the most robust API and federation services for identity it makes up for it in consumer trust and popularity. I agree with Dave in his post that Facebook offers true identity. This identity is much more meaningful than most out there. Which in turn will make it difficult for hackers to manipulate identities. The other major advantage to companies will be the low barrier of entry. The learning curve is extremely low.
  3. Consumer Trust – As I alluded to above, people trust Facebook. Period. Not much more to say here.
  4. Accelerate Software + Services – Apple with their iLife suite and others (including Microsoft Live) have shown us how to creatively use Facebook to enable a Software + Services strategy. Showing us how we can couple rich clients and software solutions in our enterprises with services in the cloud.
  5. Open and Dirt Simple API – The facebook API is very straight forward and conform to the Web 2.0 development world. There great documentation on their site and general community support. If you are a .Net developer there is a Facebook Developer Toolkit available.