Monday, July 20, 2009

Friendfeed: If You Build It They Will Come..

Field of Dreams 2Image by jadedturtle via Flickr

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, although I'm sure that not everyone shares that view, especially those that inspired the original innovation. Friendfeed the popular aggregation service that allows users to build a customised feed made up of content shared from other collaborative sites, has experienced it's fair share of imitation from rivals.

The popular startup offers the best way to find out what early adopters and social media enthusiasts are saying about any topic across the many shared blogs and services. These innovative features introduced on Friendfeed often find themselves integrated across the other social networks, most recently Google Reader introduced the 'Like' capability. I share the opinion of Rob Diana who wrote about Friendfeed getting ripped off and I have also touched on this subject several times previously on this blog. The lifestreaming service is definitely ahead of the curve with it's vision, although the features imitated must surely reduce the attraction for potential new users.

So what can Friendfeed do to prevent this trend?

Friendfeed needs to turn the tables and begin introducing revamped and improved features made popular by the other social networks. The foundations are in place, but to attract a wider audience they need to accomodate what's already accepted by the mainstream Internet user. This evening the Friendfeed blog announced version 2 of the FriendFeed API for beta testing which looks to provide an attractive alternative to the Twitter developers, disillusioned by the constant changes to the Twitter API, and who play a significant role in the microblogging services ecosystem.

The features include -
  • Real-time APIs - utilize long polling to get feeds in real-time, including search!
  • Flexible sharing options - Direct message users. Share to multiple feeds.
  • File attachments - Attach images, pdfs, spreadsheets, etc.
  • OAuth support - Register your application now.
  • Simplified response format - Your application doesn't need to know the difference between users and groups, how "friend of friend" works, or deal with hidden entries until you want to. We provide the HTML for representing entries so you don't have to construct it. Authenticated responses include a list of possible commands on every feed, entry, and comment so you don't have to do the detective work.
This announcement is exciting because the API provides so much potential to expand the experience beyond the Web interface. The possibilities for Friendfeed applications and mashups are huge considering the success developers have found through the Twitter API. Maybe a decent iPhone application will materialise now through innovation and find it's way onto the AppStore.

If you build it they will come..

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