Over on his O'Reilly Radar blog, Tim O'Reilly pierced a bit of the Facebook application hype with his post last Friday: "Good News, Bad News about Facebook Application Market: Long Tail Rules" where he notes this:
The good news has already been widely disseminated: there are nearly 5000 Facebook applications, and the top applications have tens of millions of installs and millions of active users. The bad news, alas, is in our report: 87% of the usage goes to only 84 applications! Only 45 applications have more than 100,000 active users.
He subsequently noted that he did mis-use the "Long Tail" term a bit... the story here really is that the "short head" is where all the action is. Tim is careful to note:
This doesn't mean that Facebook won't become an important platform for developers, just that a throwaway Facebook app is not the ticket to quick riches. Embracing the Facebook opportunity requires more than just optimism.
Translation - all of those out there hyping the Facebook platform as the greatest invention since sliced bread need to slow down a wee bit. The Facebook platform is very cool and is an evolving application platform. It's definitely a space that people need to pay attention to... and it very well may be a place where your application may be a runaway hit - but it may not bring the instant riches that your startup's business plan envisions. At least... not yet.
Good to see this kind of data emerging and I would expect that we'll start seeing similar reports emerging from the mainstream analyst houses. Kudos to O'Reilly for being the first one I've seen out there on the topic.
P.S. I should, of course, note that Tim's blog post references the report published by O'Reilly Research: "The Facebook Application Platform" which is available for purchase for $149.