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In the company of online heavyweights Amazon and Microsoft, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday announced that more than 65 developer partners had created software applications on the Facebook Platform. He made the announcement in San Francisco at Facebook's "f8" developer conference, attended by over 750 developers.
"We're pushing to make the world a more open place," said Zuckerberg. "We're here to unveil the next evolution of the Facebook Platform. ...Right now, social networks are closed platforms. Today, we're going to end that."
The term "platform" used to refer to hardware. It subsequently expanded to include software. Lately, it has become intertwined with the concept of community.
The Facebook Platform debuted in beta in August 2006 and was officially launched in February, in conjunction with a database query language called Facebook Query Language.
Facebook decided to open its platform to outside developers because, as Zuckerberg put it, there's more value available from outside developers than Facebook could ever build on its own.
There's also more value available to outside developers. "You can build a real advertising business off of Facebook," said Zuckerberg, detailing the business opportunities available to developers. "If you don't want to run ads, you can go ahead and sell something."
Max Levchin, founder and CEO of social widget maker Slide, said, "A massively popular social Web site is reborn as an operating system today."
Amazon, working with Facebook, created an application called "Book Reviews" that lets Facebook users write book reviews and publish them on their profile pages. Visitors viewing those pages can then click a "Buy at Amazon" button to consummate the transaction.
The application relies on Amazon E-Commerce Service, which is part of Amazon Web Services. Amazon and Facebook are working on additional applications along similar lines.
Microsoft has been working with Facebook to help its Popfly mashup application play nicely with Facebook data. Dan Fernandez, lead product manager of Microsoft's non-professional tools team, in a statement described his company's involvement with Facebook in simple terms: "This is where our customers are."
Facebook boasts an audience of 24 million people that, at its current growth rate, will pass 50 million by the end of the year. Since January, Facebook has been growing at a rate of 100,000 new registrations per day, according to the company.
"We recently passed eBay in traffic and we're working on passing Google too," said Zuckerberg.