Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Deploying an app to Facebook with Silverlight and Popfly

 Yesterday night I received a bit of inspiration from attending FacebookCampToronto2 at the MARS centre in Toronto.  There were something like 400 attendees, young and old, and a couple of people even brought their newborn children.  It felt a bit like the "free money from the government" seminar I went to back when Trump came to town with his entourage.

The registration was easy - a biz card in a bucket or type in your name & email into a spreadsheet in a laptop.  There was no online preregistration, though this would have been easy to do with Facebook's events page.  Not sure why other shows can't get this type of thing going. 

No food or refreshments that I saw & Tim Hortons was closed, though they did provide 2 PSPs to a couple winners and a Facebook t-shirt someone probably received as swag from an event in May.  Plus we got to keep our reusable nametag badges. (or they forgot to collect them)

The first segment discussed mainly trends and demographics for Facebook apps.  The largest consistent usage outside of the US seems to come from London, UK & Canada, with Australia coming up.  The age demographics vary and seem to be fairly evenly distributed.

Ami Vora, from Corporate Communications & Developer PR @ Facebook from California attended. 

  • She eloquently discussed some of the key stats & figures for application growth, and some of the funding channels available for developers
  • $10 million offered as grants from the fbFund
  • The Catch - fbFund has first right of refusal on formally funding your app in the future. 
  • $25k - $250k is sitting on the table here...

There was no mention of Microsoft investing any capital though.

Some of these statistics can be derived from the AppsAHolic app on Facebook.

Another myth that I bought into was the selling of the WhereI'veBeen app for 3 million dollars.  One of the presenters mentioned that this did not happen.  Craig Ulliott, the creator of the application, confirms this (and is adding WhereI'veBeen to Myspace.)  My dreams of get-rich-quick with Facebook are shattered, and my hero Craig falls from the sky.  :)  Plus the fact that one of the presenters mentioned he spends $2500k+ a month on servers for his app. 

As the theory confirms, you usually remember the first & last presenters, and not the middle.  If any of these facts are incorrect, chalk it up to this.

I remember two presenters from Segal Communications, Janice Diner & Michael Scissons, (one of the sponsors of the group) discussing the TD Split application.

  • It lets roommates split bills on Facebook. 
  • There was the usual web 2.0 "to-the-extreme" video about marketing apps for Sony & the banks on Facebook. 
  • The application was launched in August, with "between 1000 & 2 million users." 

Roy Pereira talked about How Many ways can you Market your Application Inside Facebook. 

  • Try to add the Developer application and make a list of all of the data entry boxes to see. 
  • There's at least 12 touchpoints according to Megan from Facebook.
  • Advertise on Other Apps, Profile Page, App Directory, Status, NewsFeed, MiniFeed
  • Use banner ads, flyers, sponsored news stories
  • External email is also available to Facebook developers via anonymous mailouts

Jesse Hirsh talked about Top Applications and Why They Work.

  • He's a reformed communist
  • His presentation garnered the most laughs
  • He's anti John Tory
  • 87% of usage goes to 84 apps.
  • 45 apps have over 100k users
  • Adonomics is a good source of further metrics

Greg Thomson talked about Monetizing your Facebook Application

  • He runs My Aquarium
  • He has 8 million + users on his various apps
  • Registered users grow exponentially, though active users usually stay flat
  • He spends 2500k+ a month on servers
  • He thinks Facebook "active" vs. registered users are worth $3/person when valuing a company.
  • AppsAHolic pays $0.10/click.  Google adsense pays $0.07/click

Steve Prichard, a Facebook developer, put his friend's gift card business on Facebook (50% off restaurants in Toronto), and created a Paypal payment option.  

  • It uses 4 different levels of threading, speaks to the gift card server, Paypal, Facebook, and even handles the browser closing. 
  • It deals with over 12 race conditions 
  • It has a Java/PHP backend. 
  • It handles window popups and uses iFrames
  • It does multiple ajax calls to get what it needs
  • The geekspeek was flowing... I figured it took him months to build from the way he was talking

Turns out it took a week to develop, and much of the time he said was learning the Facebook & Paypal APIs.

This in itself is pretty impressive, but it also says that Facebook and Paypal have a ways to go with being able to integrate their solutions as seamlessly as eBay. (Well, even eBay has a ways to go) 

Geoffrey B. Roche talked about Dogbook, Catbook, and now Babybook.  He was one of the last presenters because his Mac just messed up the tech support people when dealing with the projector.  Some interpretations of his presentation:

  • Slides just look better on a Mac
  • My dog has a Facebook account and possibly soon to have a Dogbook account too
  • In a $41 billion industry in the US alone for pets, his sites should do well by default and would also impact the greatest audience 
  • The site now offers to help find your lost pet and post other people's lost pets
  • He is going to be working with the humane society to publish adoption information
  • I see a tie in with Family Guy sponsorship.  Who wants this dog?

Bogdan Arsenie talked about WishList, a screen scraping tool which takes the URLs from over 30 retailers and captures images, prices and descriptions for gift registries that your friends can purchase. 

  • Stole my screen scraping idea.  :)
  • Someone asked if what it was doing was illegal or violated terms of use on certain sites
  • Does Google violate terms of use? 
  • What about PriceGrabber? 

Phil Tucker talked about DreamBook, a dream analysis and sharing tool, that tags your friends in dreams. 

  • Stole my word analysis idea. :)
  • He said it's his 3rd or 4th app, and every time he builds one someone else comes along and finishes a similar app before him.  
  • The app itself looked pretty impressive. 
  • Lately I have been dreaming a lot, since we got a new mattress last week, and the singing drunk guy hasn't been walking up and down the street outside our house at 12am. 
  • I won't be tagging any of my friends in my dreams anytime soon.. even if they do show up...

All of these apps open up different privacy "touchpoints" that the user should be aware of. To name a couple.

  • Your wants (and the fact that you had a 50" plasma TV on your wish list that disappeared because someone bought it)
  • Your dreams (and a psychological profile of you based on them)
  • Your paypal ID
  • Your postal code
  • Your birthday
  • Your pet's names
  • Your mother's maiden name
  • Your bills
  • The fact that you are a vampire or zombie

Facebook's recent focus on developers vs. users, and opening up the brand to _Monetization_ has led to some backlash against their privacy policy, or lack of, and the glut of new applications flooding the platform.

Robert Scoble doesn't like his 5000 friend cap, and the poorly designed apps that can't handle him joining.  He commented on another blogger's posting around the tech industry's recent hyping of Facebook, and offers to beta test apps for you with his 5000 friends.

Nick O'Neill thinks Facebook needs a Golden App.

Doc Searles recently bashed "Buttbook", since they're not following an opt-in privacy policy and dumping your ass on all the major search engines.

Facebook should be around for awhile longer.  It is the #1 photo sharing web site now.  It is the #6 most trafficked site after Google.  It's now easier to use than eVite, according to my friend who plans events with hundreds of people.

Here's a job offer for a Principal Product Strategist - Social Network if Mark Zukerberg is looking for a job.  Somehow I don't think he'll apply just yet...  


Link to FacebookCampToronto2 on Facebook

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