How Much Money Are Facebook Apps Making? Not Much Apparently

VideoEgg has announced that its ad network for Facebook applications – eggnetwork – has pulled in around $1.5 million in ad revenue over the past five months.

[From How Much Money Are Facebook Apps Making? Not Much Apparently]

This doesn’t surprise me at all. My almost year long affair with Facebook has enlightened me to many realities in this network.

Very few FB apps are what us old timers would refer to as applications, they are more like interactive games and gadgets. Video, music, and images are well mined out at this point and FB users don’t have much of an appetite for consuming content within Facebook. What FB users seem to do a lot of is consume the meta-content that other FB users are creating through their interactions with FB.

For the apps that actually do things, well none of them are all that good when compared to alternatives. Clearly there is value in having these apps in one place, but eventually the development platform strategy has to go beyond the goal of locking users into the platform.

For all the talk of viral features in FB, the fact remains that the most popular apps are still the early apps that benefited from scarcity and an ability to spam your entire friends list with invites.

Triers vs. users. The favored past-time for a vast number of FB users is adding apps to their profile pages, not actually using them for anything. In fact, profile clutter is now so much of a problem that FB released a clean up tool to deal with it.

I am skeptical of the move to enable FB apps outside of FB primarily because FB apps are themselves pretty primitive compared to what is capable in other frameworks. Now this is not to understate the value of the backend network, but getting back to that issue of these apps not being very good when compared to standalone alternatives, it’s pretty hard to drive adoption when the apps themselves are unappealing.

Users in general show little appetite for applications that feature advertising, even in Facebook, so while advertisers may salivate at the notion of driving CPM/CPA in Facebook, I think this goal will remain illusory. As the creative folks get more clever about how to insert brand and ad payloads we will likely see a shift here, and I am also not suggesting that all advertising is bad either. But in the end if we end up with incremental improvements in clickthroughs and other interactions, when compared to traditional forms of online advertising, well how valuable is the platform then?

I realize that much of what I have just written flies in the face of accepted wisdom, and RockYou and Slide both just raised big $$, as well as Facebook itself, but I would caution anyone that private company valuations have never been a proxy for broader mainstream market success. I do believe that gold is indeed in them thar hills, but mozying on up with a couple of picks and shovels and dreaming of riches without understanding the intricacies of what it takes to be successful will probably just result in fool’s gold.

Schwarzenegger’s Health Care Plan Rejected

“I am someone who does not give up,” Schwarzenegger said. “Especially when there is a problem as big and as serious as health care that needs to be fixed. One setback is just that — a setback. I still believe comprehensive health care reform is needed in California. We will keep moving forward. I can promise you that.”

[From Schwarzenegger’s Health Care Plan Rejected – News Story – KNTV | San Francisco]

What is so “comprehensive” about a plan that simply requires everyone to have health insurance? Comprehensive health care reform should include tort reform and reforms aimed at reducing the cost of health care, not just requiring everyone to be able to pay. Actually, the notion that the state wouldn’t end up forking over billions of taxpayer dollars to fund this program was also fantasy, and why Democrats and Republicans alike rejected it.

Is the Tipping Point Toast?

Short answer, no. But the tipping point was at best a collection of observations that are useful to explain a phenomena that cannot be manufactured or predicted.

“It just doesn’t work,” Watts says, when I meet him at his gray cubicle at Yahoo Research in midtown Manhattan, which is unadorned except for a whiteboard crammed with equations. “A rare bunch of cool people just don’t have that power. And when you test the way marketers say the world works, it falls apart. There’s no there there.”

[From Is the Tipping Point Toast? — Duncan Watts — Trendsetting]

Adventures at the Market

I love going to the market, it underscores my belief that all great food had to have started out as a dare. Take the entire shellfish category as an example, can you imagine anyone looking at an oyster for the first time and saying “gee I think I’ll eat that”?

What is the weirdest food you have prepared and/or eaten?

BTW, these buddha hand citron are amazing, they have no pulp just all rind.


New Windows vs. Old Windows

Two weeks ago, InfoWorld launched a petition campaign to save Windows XP. So far we???ve gotten more than 70,000 signatures, thanks to a passionate response from a wide range of XP users. We hope we can persuade Microsoft to keep selling XP licenses indefinitely, past the June 30 deadline, after which Microsoft has said no more shrink-wrapped or OEM licenses will be available for retailers, computer makers, and others to order. (Vendors can continue to sell by June 30 any XP licenses they ordered from Microsoft, but when they run out of those, they can’t get more to sell.)

[From How to get Windows XP after June 30 – Yahoo! News]

It is starting to sound like a new Coke vs. old Coke situation, although I doubt it will rise to the same emotional level. But this same lack of emotion about Windows may well be a bigger issue for Microsoft.

If you have studied Apple’s rise from the ashes you will find something consistent through every new product introduction, a well cultivated emotional connection to the Apple brand. You can see this play out in the way that companies who make accessories for Apple’s products design and package them; they are conscious of the fact that in order to appeal to Apple users you have to affiliate yourself with the brand as well as deliver a good product.

A lot of commentators refer to Apple products as fashion, which may well be the case but I think it’s deeper than that, it’s to the level of being aspirational like all of the great and durable brands over the years have been. What does Microsoft stand for? The stated mission is to “help people and businesses realize their full potential” and that’s not a bad mission but I still don’t get connected to it as a consumer. Apple’s mission statement isn’t that different but they open with a powerful statement, “Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience…”.

Mission statements are drivel for the most part but it does offer a portal into the soul of a company. Apple has always been about me as a user, Microsoft lost that back around the time when Lotus and Wordperfect dominated their respective markets.

The lack of passion for Microsoft’s products is rising to a level of ambivalence that I would expect they would find concerning. Ask someone about XP vs. Vista and most people shrug their shoulders and say “whatever”, or if they do have an opinion it is likely to be in favor of XP or at best not negative about Vista. The amazing thing is that Vista is a good operating system as well, visually appealing and loads of features.

I just wish Microsoft would quit trying to be all things to all people and put users first.