August 2009 – Stay N Alive

Hey Businesses, You’re Using Facebook Wrong

You're doing it wrongRobert Scoble just finished a great blog post on why he thinks Twitter is worth much more than people give it credit for.  He cites its ease of use for businesses and open nature as an easy way for businesses to target customers.  He and I had a conversation about this on FriendFeed, and while I still feel Facebook has the upper-hand here, it definitely has to open up a little more in order to be completely on par with Twitter.  However, there is a side of Facebook businesses aren’t yet fully utilizing and they need to start – it’s a wealth of information and user connections at their hands if they just embrace it.  The part of Facebook businesses are completely missing is Facebook Connect.

In my conversation with Robert we were discussing whether Facebook or Twitter had a better UI.  I think our conversation may have been moot, since in the end the part of Twitter most people see is via a desktop client of some sort.  Many of us are seeing trends via TweetDeck, or friend lists via Seesmic and similar.  Or perhaps we’re searching via PeopleBrowsr. There is a majority group of people out there that simply aren’t aware of the basic UI Twitter has on its own website.  Yet at the same time I don’t think developers are coming anywhere near close enough to what they could be embracing with the Facebook API for desktop clients – there is so much developers are missing when it comes to Facebook!

Regardless, even if you take the plain-Jane websites and compare them with each other, Twitter, while much more open and easier to find archives than Facebook out of the box, pales in comparison to Facebook when you compare UIs.  Facebook has threaded conversations.  Facebook has friend lists, and you can sort your feeds by friend lists.  You can completely control who sees what you post on Facebook.  You can’t do any of that with Twitter.  Facebook has likes.  While Twitter has favorites, I can always do the same on Facebook and “share” a link or similar to my profile and anyone can always reference it later under my links.  I can separate my links, videos, and photos (which appear in-line, not via 3rd-party service) from my main status update stream if I want to.  You can view just my links, just my videos, or just my photos, and for links even download the stream as RSS.  You can do real groups in Facebook – on Twitter you have to hack it with hashtags.  You can organize true events in Facebook, and store a full profile about yourself or even your business.  Keep in mind that most of this is also available to your business as well.  It seems to me that the ONLY thing Facebook lacks is a decent way to search (while they do have that too, it’s still limited), and a fully open version of the site that businesses can easily embrace like they do Twitter. It would seem Twitter still has a lot to catch up to.  Yes, that’s a big thing, but much more simple to put in place than all the other things I mentioned above.

Now, back to my original point about Facebook Connect.  On FriendFeed Robert said to me, “I’ve talked with dozens of businesses and they all say Facebook isn’t working as well for them.”  I believe he’s seeing that.  I think the majority of businesses are using Facebook wrong though.  Even though I say that I also know, consult, and talk to dozens of businesses in which Facebook is working for them.  Some businesses are using it right.  Ask Digg how they’ve done since integrating Facebook.  Ask Huffington Post how well they’re doing now that they’ve integrated Facebook.  What about FriendFeed’s integration?  Heck, even my SocialToo saw a huge spike since we integrated SocialToo Status into our product line, utilizing Facebook.  Or what about Geni, or iLike, or Flixter?  All these businesses were still businesses before Facebook.  Facebook is what has given them an incredible boost since their integration though.

Businesses aren’t integrating Facebook Connect as they should.  Here’s what Facebook Connect is – with just about 3 lines of HTML-like code (it’s called XFBML in Facebook terms) and a small snippet of Javascript that you can basically just copy and paste, you can have your site’s users logging into your website (didn’t have a log in before?  Well now you do, along with your very own social network of 300 million people.) with hardly any effort whatsoever.

Now, let’s get a little deeper.  Facebook Connect, with the help and just a few hours time of one of your own coders, can take your existing database of users and find out how many of them are already Facebook users.  My bet is most of them are (remember, there are near 300 million Facebook users on the planet!).  Now you can prompt those users to begin telling their friends about your brand to their closest friends and relatives, using just the tools Facebook provides, ALL ON YOUR OWN WEBSITE. Oh, and even better – unlike Twitter, your users never, ever, leave your website when authenticating with Facebook. You simply won’t get that intimacy between your brand and customers on Twitter.

Have social features already on your website?  Look at what Digg is doing with Facebook Connect.  Every single user that joins Digg through Facebook Connect, or associates their account with a Facebook account for the first time through Facebook Connect, AUTOMATICALLY has their Facebook Friends who have also done the same added as friends on as well.  Automatically, with no work on your users’ part, you can associate your users with their already existing social graph on Facebook, let them communicate, send stuff to their wall, their friends’ walls, and more, all simply via the Facebook API, ON YOUR OWN WEBSITE.

Twitter pales in comparison to what Facebook can do for businesses. The majority of businesses are just using Facebook wrong.  If you manage a business’s marketing or brand management campaign and only have a Facebook Page, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.  The power of Facebook isn’t about Facebook itself, but about the vast set of APIs Facebook is providing to you and your business to get your brand into the most valuable place of all – that intimate setting between a customer and their close friends and family.  You can’t do that with Twitter.  You can with Facebook.  This is why if Twitter is worth $5 billion, Facebook is worth at least 2 or 3 or more times that. Your business needs to get in and use Facebook right if you’re going to stay ahead of the game.

Robert Scoble is giving Mark Zuckerberg free consulting (his points of which I agree with) – I hope this bit of free consulting for your business was helpful too.  If your business is to see even more value than they are on Twitter, you MUST be using Facebook Connect. That is the way you embrace Facebook as a business.  Contact me if you need any more help than this. As a software developer on both networks, this is why I got into Facebook – it’s why I’m still bullish about the network.

Now to get back to coding…

When Did Facebook Remove RSS for Friends’ Status Updates?

RSSYesterday it was mentioned in an interview with Facebook iPhone developer, Joe Hewitt, on Dave Winer and Marshall Kirkpatrick’s podcast, “Bad Hair Day”, that Facebook did not have the ability to retrieve your friends’ status updates via RSS. I was taken by this, as this was something I wrote about back in January, and it was indeed possible, with a special key only known to the profile owner, to get an RSS feed of your Facebook Friends’ status updates.  So I tweeted out the link last night thinking it would be useful.

I tested out the link today, and it turns out that Facebook some time in the last several months seems to have removed the Friends’ RSS updates feature. Joe Hewitt, who works for Facebook, seemed to be surprised by it yesterday as well, as he too had seemed to think it was possible until looking for it.

My hope is that this was just overlooked and Facebook in the near future will release the Friends’ status RSS feed again.  Facebook has made many changes to their News Feed and Wall lately, and my assumption is that it just got overlooked at some point.  Having that available via RSS, and a user-controlled level should be no problem so long as it is only displaying status updates marked with the privacy control “everyone”.  Maybe that was the problem and they’re fixing it.

So for now it would seem you’ll have to get down and dirty with the API to have any sort of access to a person’s friends status updates.  That’s okay in my book, but having a little more standards-controlled ways of retrieving this information would also be useful on a different level. Help me David Recordon, you’re my only hope!

UPDATE: It looks like if you previously had subscribed to your friends via RSS the link is still working.  It seems that just the link has been removed – does anyone know how to find it now?


Facebook Takes a Page Out of iTunes With "Credits Enabled" App Directory

FacebookWhat has been speculated for awhile now seems to be out in the open.  Facebook is rolling out what appears to be an iTunes-esque version of the Facebook Application directory, in which users can easily find and purchase from “credits-enabled” applications.  The feature was recently enabled on my Facebook profile, and after clicking an option titled, “spend credits”, appears to take you to a directory of “credits enabled” applications where you can use your Credits and purchase from applications supporting the method of payment. All users appear to be given a default of 5 Credits to start out with.

Clicking through to the applications, you are required to install them first, and then within the applications that are credits-enabled you can purchase things within the application with your credits.  For example, the Social Calendar application enables you to purchase virtual “gifts” to send to your friends for various events. Purchasing the item deducts credits from your account.


Credits cost 10 Credits for $1, and can be purchased either via links in the applications, or via the drop-down at in the header navigation menu of Facebook.  Becoming a “credits-enabled” application would appear to be a closed process at the moment, as Facebook has yet to make any announcements to developers yet, nor have they published any documentation on their wiki.  It will certainly be interesting to see how developers embrace this when they do make it open, and what types of business models people are able to create through the new model.

Facebook, it would appear, is soon to embrace a new business model on top of their already ad-based system. I’m really excited to see how this plays out, and if we’ll see some of the big e-commerce players begin to embrace it (imagine what Amazon could do with such an integration).  Here are some more screenshots:



USAA Shows How Americans Make Software With New iPhone App

USAAI’ve been a proud member of USAA since I was old enough to drive.  The organization, originally a car insurance company for members of the military, veterans, and their families, has always offered some of the best customer service on the planet, and unbeatable prices.  My automobile insurance has always been through them.  I’ve had a mortgage through them, and I do all my personal banking through them.  They simply have the best rates and best service around.  As the grandchild of a World War II hero, I feel spoiled in this way.

Just a few weeks ago the bank held up to its standard and became one of the first of its kind, in this time where banks are struggling to cut costs and stay afloat, to provide an iPhone app just for its customers.  They did not skimp on what you could do with it either!


Simple Banking

The usefulness of the app starts with the banking.  I now have an instant ATM, right in my pocket where I can transfer funds, check my bank account balances, pay bills and more all with the touch of a button.  If it would only spit out cash!

Check Scanning and Deposit via the iPhone

The coolest feature, a feature long-since available on USAA’s website, is the ability to take pictures of your checks and deposit them right there on the spot.  When I get a check, depositing the check is as simple as snapping a picture of both sides of the check with my iPhone’s camera, entering the total, and hitting submit!  Now there’s never any risk of having a check returned, as you can verify it’s legit right there on the spot!  Never has depositing money ever been so easy.

Accident Checklist

Ever get in an accident and not sure what to do?  USAA’s iPhone app gives you an accident checklist you can pull out of your pocket if you’re ever in an automobile accident, telling you what to do, step-by-step.  In addition, they provide the ability to store notes for your accident, and even pictures using your iPhones camera.


ATM Locator

Even though the iPhone doesn’t dispense cash, you have nothing to worry.  With USAA’s iPhone app you can, with a click of a button, know exactly where the nearest ATM is to you.  Clicking a button to use the iPhone’s GPS and notify it of your position pinpoints where the nearest ATM is and how to get to it.  You can even call the owning bank if you need directions.  And don’t forget – USAA members never have to pay ATM fees because the bank reimburses them!


The app also allows members to trade within their investment accounts with the company.  Selecting the account you can handle all your investments and trade right on the spot.

I’ve always been proud to be a USAA member because it makes me feel American.  Not only does it remind me of the service my Grandfather gave to this country years ago, but it reminds me that America is about competition, helping one another out, and innovation.  USAA has made me proud to be an American with this application.  I only wish my other banks could be so American.

If you’re a former member of the military, member of the military, dependant of military, or dependant of another USAA member, let me know in the comments and I’d be happy to share how you too can join and get these great benefits.  Or, just tell me your story about being American and we can all celebrate your service together!


Comcast – Definitely a Different Company Than They Used to Be

comcastI’ve been a Comcast customer most of my adult life. I have to admit unfortunately that most of that was not by choice.  I remember the days of going day after day of support calls trying to just get internet access, or to get the right speeds, or one time they claimed I had a modem when I had actually sent the modem back to them already.  They had a serious reputation with the Better Business Bureau back then. The customer was almost never right. Today they convinced me they’re a new company though.

It all started about a month and a half ago when I left to Boston to spend some time with my parents and just get a change in scenery.  I decided to cancel my Comcast Internet service, since it would be a waste to have it on for a month with no one using it.  Yeah, I’m cheap in that way.  Anyway, the guy we cancelled with was very friendly, understood our situation, and told us it would be free to terminate, and just a $39 (or so) installation fee to set it back up. I was happy to accept that, considering it was far cheaper than what we were paying per month in internet service.  We cancelled with no issues.

Coming back from Boston, I called Comcast again to set up our internet, hoping to have a connection ready when we got home.  The guy on the phone this time told me it was now costing $50 to install the service.  I told him what the other guy told us, and it didn’t seem there was much he could do.  We escalated it to his supervisor, and with almost no hesitation, not only did he bring it down, but he said he could give it to us for $25, AND they were willing to give us a deal at half the price per month we were paying before.

There was one caveat.  The local technicians couldn’t come out for an entire week.  As a blogger, CEO of a startup, and overall internet-dependent to be fully productive, this was a serious problem for me.  There was nothing this guy could do.  I was soon to be just another dissatisfied customer, as I was used to being with Comcast, at least so I thought.

I decided to make one last-ditch effort to get internet at an escalated time frame – I was even willing to pay for it!  So I sent a message on Twitter asking Frank Eliason (@comcastcares) if they might be able to help me.  As always he was very helpful, and had me e-mail their support staff.

It took a couple days, but yesterday my wife got a call from their support team saying someone would be out yesterday if any appointments opened up, or today for sure if that didn’t happen.  Sure enough, today I got a call from their support staff saying someone would be here, 2 days earlier than we were expecting.  The support person even left me his phone number and told me to call him if I had any problems at all.

The technician came, installed my internet, and I’m now a happy customer.  This was one experience I have to say I’m satisfied and really impressed me with Comcast.

The Caveat

Now, Comcast is better than they were before, as I mentioned earlier.  However, they’re still not where they need to be.  Here are a few things that would have made this experience even better for me:

  • First, Comcast needs to get rid of the need to have a Twitter account to get the service @comcastcares is giving people.  Sure, @comcastcares cares.  I love that team – I’m happy that at least those of us on Twitter have access.  But my Dad won’t join Comcast because he has had similar experiences and he is not on Twitter to get that level of service.
  • Second, I shouldn’t have to go to @comcastcares in the first place.  Local reps need to be given the authority and access that @comcastcares is given.  It’s not fair that I have to go through 2 steps every time I need good service from Comcast.  I should receive the service I need, from people that have access to it, on the first try.
  • Lastly, the local technicians need to trust the customers more. I’ve never had a local technician from Comcast come by that didn’t think they knew more than me (not that I know much, but that’s besides the point).  If I say this works just fine in Safari and we’re going to use Safari, work with me on that.  If I want to connect via my router because it will work just the same, work with me on that (or bring your own laptop to do the set up).  Believe it or not, there are customers who have been in their shoes before.

In all however, I had a great experience with Comcast.  They’re doing better.  They’re not all the way there, though, and hopefully this new direction is a sign of much better things, all across the board, to come for the company.  Thanks to Frank Eliason and the team there for pushing such a great program throughout the company!

Don’t "Feed" the Regator App – it Finds News for You

CrocodileRecently at a speaking engagement I took part in I was asked by one of the audience members, “How do I find good blogs to follow if I don’t want to worry about an RSS reader?”  It was a valid question, as someone like my Mom, who is very careful adopting new technology, may not want to spend the time learning to find and add new feeds to some sort of “RSS Reader” she is already very scared of.  I immediately thought of websites like Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop to refer people to when they don’t want to worry about RSS.  I was recently introduced to another website along those lines, Regator, which today launched an iPhone app for helping you, your friends, or even my Mom discover new news, no RSS Reader necessary!

regator home

The Regator iPhone app is quite simply a categorized index of thousands of human-selected blogs at your fingertips.  It starts with a list of the most popular blog posts at a given time, giving you a very useful little slider to filter out blog posts in the popular posts by category, similar to what the Facebook iPhone app uses for filtering friend lists.

Or, you can look at all the newest posts by category.  For instance, if I select the technology category filter, the first post that comes up is an article by Ubergizmo about MSI touchscreen netbooks, posted just 1 minute ago.  If I select the post, I can read the blog post right there, in the app, without ever having to switch to a browser.  I can then opt to share that post via e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook in just a few points of my finger. (just don’t get bit!)

trendsThere is a trends feature, similar to Twitter trends, but for the blogs indexed on Regator.  The trends at the time of this post were “iPhone”, “App Store”, “iPod Touch”, among others, signaling there must be something going on in Apple news currently.  Touching “iPod Touch” reveals multiple articles on rumors of a new iPod Touch coming up on September 9th.  I can click through to each of them.  The cool thing is I can also filter the trends by category as well, so I can only show Technology trends, for instance.

If I ever just want to browse articles, something my Mom might want to do, there is a directory selection, giving you a filtered directory of all the indexed blogs, by category.  I like to flick through, and randomly put my finger down to see what comes up – serves as a fun way to discover new blogs.

regator socialtoo search

Of course, if you don’t care about categorization, and just want to find the news you’re looking for, they provide search throughout the entire iPhone app.  Just type in the term you want (I searched for “socialtoo“), and sure enough you get an entire list of blog posts on the topic you just searched for.  It’s fast, too!

So, if you get a chance, and have an iPhone, go take a swim with the ‘Gator – Regator that is.  It’s a great source of news right in your pocket.

The app is available for free in the iTunes store, or via this link.

Never Lose Your Remote Again With i.TV’s Remote Control Framework

click remote i.tvWhen the iPhone was first released, one of the strongest draws that convinced me towards purchasing an iPhone was a cool little app that enabled me to control iTunes, straight from my iPhone. The “Remote” app, provided by Apple, essentially took one more remote out of my hands and all my music, whether on the iPhone or off, was right there, in my hands wherever I went.  Today i.TV has taken that concept and with the help of the new iPhone 3.0 firmware, applied it towards their strength, TV and Movies.  Today they announced a new remote control framework, allowing TV and device manufacturers to allow individuals to control their home entertainment devices from the iPhone, straight over WiFi, bluetooth, or the iPhone’s own built-in connector.

Your Own Universal Remote in Your Pocket

As devices like GPS get ready to make their way onto the iPhone, the iPhone is quickly becoming a single, all-in-one device users can take anywhere, and simply plug in to the situation they are taking part in.  i.TV has realized this and applied it to the TV watching experience.  Today, they announced when the software is released in the app store, that it will launch immediately with a built-in TiVo remote control.  You simply register your TiVo, and for any show you want to control, you’ll no longer be searching for the remote.  Just pull out your iPhone and play, pause, fastforward, rewind, and even schedule recordings, straight from the comfort of the same device you take phone calls from.

i.TV has built an entire framework around this concept, and is hoping other device manufacturers will also embrace it.  I, for one am hoping for a Windows Media Center plugin I can simply control my home media center experience from.  Maybe an Xbox controller that I can control my TV watching remotely?

iTunes Integration and New Design and Layout

In addition to the Remote Control framework, i.TV has completely redesigned their application to a much smoother, and faster application flow.  The buttons are now easier to push, it is much easier to control your watching and viewing experience, schedule shows, add to your Netflix queue, or just see what’s on at your local Movie theater (and preview the movie before you see it!).  In addition to that, they have finally integrated iTunes into the experience, allowing you to purchase and download relevant iTunes movie and TV shows, and even soundtracks and music straight from the app itself.

With a single app, i.TV has provided you everything you ever needed to know about the movies and TV shows you are watching, also allowing you to control and react to the experience as you’re watching or preparing to watch a show.  I can just see the Movie theaters cringing at all the i.TV users checking their phones as they watch movies now.  No worries though, because you can purchase your tickets, straight from i.TV too!

Push Notifications

Alongside the rest, i.TV is finally releasing Push Notification alerts for upcoming shows.  Now, when your favorite show is about to play, even if you don’t have means to record it, you’ll never miss a show, as your remote, er, iPhone, will notify you when the show is about to happen.   Simply schedule the show, set the alert, and catch each show you never wanted to miss!  Previously this was only available via e-mail.


As a loyal i.TV user there are still a few annoyances that have not yet been embraced.  Knowing the team I am sure they are being worked on.  The number one missing feature I would love to see is despite the “i” in i.TV, i.TV still lacks social network integration.  I can currently send myself reminders via e-mail, or even share with friends via e-mail, but i.TV has seemed to have missed the easiest sharing tool of all, and that is social networks. Facebook has provided simple libraries to integrate Facebook Connect into any application (it takes just minutes to set up), and Twitter integration and sharing also is a fairly simple feature to implement (a matter of simply sending to a simple link in a browser window, no API needed).  I hope these are features we can expect to see soon – I’d like to share the TV shows I’m watching with my real friends, and not have to spam them via e-mail.  Or maybe I could post a review and have it appear on Twitter or Facebook.  These are very simple updates.

In addition, the registration process is still a little too complicated. Currently, to register, you have to type your e-mail address twice, and provide a username. I would suggest one or the other, or even better yet, just integrate Facebook Connect or Twitter OAuth as your registration means and get rid of the registration altogether.  Regardless, once you’re registered, there is little mess or pain beyond that, so perhaps it is only a personal annoyance.

i.TV Keeps Getting Better

Regardless of my own annoyances, i.TV is still the best TV Guide app for the iPhone, hands down.  Every release they continue to blow away the competition and keep getting better at it!  As devices like the TiVo begin to embrace the iPhone as a remote control device using universal frameworks like i.TV’s, I’m sure other manufacturers will want to get out of the stone age and incorporate their own products as well.  My hope is that we’ll see this very soon as i.TV seems far from losing any momentum in this race.  While I don’t have a TiVo (I’m a loyal Windows Media Center user), I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds, and will continue checking i.TV for reminders and updates to the TV shows I watch, hoping my own device manufacturers also hop on (ahem, Microsoft???).  i.TV continues to be one of the best apps in the app store, and when the 2.0 version is released, you should definitely give it a try – it’s free!

Now, where did I put my remote?


merlin remote


merlin itunes

Best Buy Fails to See Amazon as Competition

best buyThis last week, along with traveling back to Salt Lake City from Boston, I was also able to celebrate my birthday for the 32nd time.  I decided, in celebration, I was finally going to bite the bullet and go out and purchase a Blue Ray DVD Player.  So I did my shopping, and found the best Blue Ray player for the price which I could find was an LG BD 370 Network Blu-ray Disc Player, which, at cheapest rate, sold on Amazon for $217.21.  It has BDLive, Netflix and Youtube streaming, along with all the other cool features you can get in a blue ray player.  Load times are also very fast.

While I was ready to purchase on Amazon and wait for my shipment, I decided to search around locally to see if I could find something I could pick up that day, since it was my birthday, after all.  I found one at around $229 on, and sure enough, it was available at my local store.  I knew Best Buy offered price matching – they hang a huge banner from their store advertising such.  I also love that I can earn points from them, and since it’s my birthday month, I get quadruple the points for my purchases this month! I also had a $10 gift certificate I had earned from previous purchases.

So I headed over to my local Best Buy, eager to purchase my new player, found the player, picked it up, and even got a copy of Coraline
to watch with the family that night.  The DVD happens to play in 3D, 2D, normal DVD formats, and has a downloadable version you can save to a Mac, PC, or iPod/iPhone.  I took it and a Coke to drink that night over to the checkout counter, and to my surprise, the lady handling my purchase wouldn’t match the Amazon price I had printed out before coming to the store!

“We don’t match online prices,” she said.  I responded with “well, you do realize Amazon is a competitor, right?” She then responded with something to the effect that it was their policy.  She then proceeded to offer me an extended warranty plan, adding, “I bet they don’t offer that online, do they?” Despite the irony of that statement and the good laugh I got from it, I left it alone, purchasing the item at full-price since it was only a $10 difference, and while Best Buy seemingly couldn’t afford that difference, it wasn’t a huge deal for me, especially since I had the gift certificate.

That experience however has made me think twice about the next time I find something cheaper on Amazon, or elsewhere online.  Since I can’t price-match at my local store, why buy local at all?  All their competitors, CompUSA, Circuit City, etc. have gone fully online.  Who exactly is Best Buy price matching with any more?

I think in the future, when I see that lower price on, I may just take it, give Amazon the business, and have the order delivered to my door rather than wasting my gas to go to Best Buy.  Sorry Best Buy, but your competitors are much more appealing to me right now.

Will I Jump? Louis Gray and I Talk the Facebook/FriendFeed Acquisition

niagara falls barrel jump


As I was walking over Horseshoe falls at Niagara Falls today, Louis Gray and I chatted a bit over BlogTalkRadio’s Cinch service. In our discussion we talked about the Facebook acquisition of FriendFeed, and I think we both came into agreement that jumping now, while a understandable response, perhaps isn’t the best decision. I cover my knowledge of the Facebook platform and Facebook, while Louis talks about his knowledge of FriendFeed and the FriendFeed team and his thoughts on the matter. I think it was a very interesting conversation, to say the least.

You can listen via the stream above or just download it here. Be sure to follow my Cinch feed for more updates like this! (And add Cinch’s number to your phone book so you can do the same) Let me know what you think!

Facebook Prepares to Compete With Gmail: Launches Messaging API

FacebookFacebook is moving too fast this week for me to keep up.  On the heels of the Acquisition of Gmail-creator-founded FriendFeed, along with the launch of their new search interface, Facebook just took it one step further today.  In an announcement on their blog along with associated documentation on their developers wiki, Facebook released a set of new APIs for developers to begin writing software that enables them to read and display a user’s inbox and messages from Facebook Platform.

While Facebook has offered a rich set of APIs since the launch of their developer platform in 2007, Facebook’s messaging system has remained stagnant and seemingly untouched during the entire period.  Developers have been itching to get into the messages of a user on their behalf to help fix this.  Not only is Facebook opening this up for developers, but they are also getting ready to launch an entirely new messaging system being tested by a small group of users currently, set to launch “in the coming weeks”.  Facebook also launched an interface into their notifications API enabling developers to read and notify users when they receive new notifications.  I expect this to be used in Desktop applications such as Seesmic.

While people are speculating the fate of FriendFeed after the new acquisition, there seems to be two things on the mind of Facebook recently: Messaging and Search.  With the creator of Gmail on their team and co-founder of one of the best real-time search engines on the internet (that just so happens to have a superior Direct Messaging system as well), you can bet Facebook is already putting him hard at work in helping them on such features.  I hope and expect to see this new API implemented into FriendFeed’s own messaging system, as well – hopefully enabling you to import your Facebook inbox into FriendFeed’s own DM box.  We’ll wait and see.

It’s no secret that E-mail is an old and out-dated technology.  It only goes to say that we’re in a race now for the fastest, most real-time, and responsive messaging system to replace e-mail.  While Google moves forward with Wave, you can bet Facebook will be doing the same with their own messaging.  With the ability to now truly identify individuals socially without need for an actual “address”, E-mail may actually be going by the wayside.

Gmail has yet to launch any sort of API into its own messaging (that I’m aware of) – this move by Facebook is unprecedented.  While Facebook will not allow developers to actually send messages on behalf of users (a wise and careful move, I’m sure), this makes Facebook even more “open” in my book.

Developers can sign up for the new messaging platform by signing up for the Inbox API whitelist.