Technology is our friend: Recent Facebook changes finally confirm: It is a social OS
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September 23, 2011

Recent Facebook changes finally confirm: It is a social OS

A few days after Google+ beta-launched, Facebook announced some "awesome" new features, and many were disappointed when they came out with video chat through a Skype-integration. I saw the "awesome" thing not in the feature, but in the confirmation of their strategy: to integrate successful services and make them more social. Now, this strategy really comes to life: they integrate Spotify and a dozen other music services, as well als they integrate Hulu, and more TV&movies will definately follow soon. Many people are so excited about all this and new features like "timeline" that they forget to see what lies behind all this: A new generation of operating systems has come to life.

A commenter on TechCrunch described it as a trend that web companies integrate Facebook on their sites, see success, then integrate their services on Facebook - and i can totally agree with this analysis. Zuck kept going on about how all future web services will be built around people instead of being designed around content, products or other "things". And of course this had to lead to a Facebook platform strategy, where they wouldn't build everything single-handedly by themselves.

What does that mean? It means that similar to Android or iOS, even similar to Windows, Facebook offers a framework that delivers certain capabilities to developers or anyone who wants to offer a digital service. Traditional operating systems (and I see Android, iOS as "traditional" like Windows) offer technical capabilities and a certain reach, a user base that can be targeted through their operating systems. They give you certain opportunities in user interfaces, software to use, databases to be integrated etc.'

One of my infamous "ugly but informative" charts
When you compare all this with Facebook, it is basically the same: The only difference is that they are offering social capabilities on top of a technical framework and a huge audience of 800 million. This operating system integrates you and your friends, and it is the only one that currently is able to instantly let you derive value from the online connections of your users.

Facebook makes use of "traditional OS", but kicks them down in the value chain

Facebook is more than a "social layer" on applications: it is a social layer on operating systems, thus forming a new generation of OSses: built around people rather than around technologies, touchscreens and programming languages. Its impact on the web and the digital economy of the future can hardly be underestimated, and any web company or service that looks at Facebook as an advertising channel through fan pages and a traffic source through a like button does just this: dramatically underestimate Facebook. It clearly takes over the role of an operating system, and it is easier for Facebook to add the technical basis that traditional systems like Android or iOS offer than for all these others to "upgrade" into social.