Why Doesn’t Facebook Charge for API Features?  

Posted by: shilpz in , , ,

Facebook has been launching a number of campaigns for clients that provided branded integration with Facebook status updates. For example, CNN’s recent inauguration campaign included status update notifications which specified that they were posted from the CNN site. This feature is limited to those that have set up campaigns with Facebook. Having to work with Facebook directly can be a costly proposition on both ends (Facebook needs to provide resources and companies need to pay for that time). What would be much easier is if Facebook simply charged for specific services.

If brands could simply pay for each instance of a branded Facebook status update, it would help Facebook generate revenue, and it would reduce overhead. Clearly there would need to be limits to a paid API since companies with deep pockets could pay to spam the system but ultimately there could be a lot of value in an extended API with additional features.

Also, Facebook could open up their API for new components such as access to the news feed or shared stories (two of Facebook’s most valuable features) on a paid basis. Want to aggregate everything Facebook users are sharing? Pay for it! I know that I would definitely pay for additional features, and charging for a more robust API gives Facebook an incentive for developing a more robust platform.
Should Facebook Charge for Everything? An instant way to reduce “spammy” applications on the platform would be to charge for all API calls.

Most developers would instantly shun such an idea. Perhaps there could be a threshold for charging (such as all apps over 100,000 monthly active users, etc) but charging would reduce a lot of the noise on the platform. There are clearly downsides for charging for an API.
For starters, many companies will simply leave the Facebook platform and this is the last thing that Facebook wants. Secondly, developers would become paying customers and that means they would demand a lot more from Facebook. For example if Facebook decided to turn up limitations on the platform for paid developers, there would be even more of a backlash.

Finally, Facebook doesn’t want to get in the business of full-time developer support. While they already have resources allocated to helping developers, under a paid platform, Facebook would have to allocate a lot more resources to this area. A Premium API Makes Sense Regardless of whether or not charging for the whole Facebook platform makes sense, charging for a premium service is a logical extension of the existing platform. Rather than requiring Facebook to exhaust developer resources on each ad campaign, the company would benefit from letting developers build campaigns directly into a premium API.

Would you be willing to pay for a developer API?

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 31, 2009 and is filed under , , , . You can leave a response and follow any responses to this entry through the Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) .


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