Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
7/27/2009
07:58 AM
Allen Stern
Allen Stern
Commentary
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How FriendFeed Will Generate Revenue

Earlier this month FriendFeed launched the next version of their API service. It got me thinking about how FriendFeed could generate real revenue and become a real-time search leader.

Earlier this month FriendFeed launched the next version of their API service. It got me thinking about how FriendFeed could generate real revenue and become a real-time search leader.When people ask me to describe FriendFeed, I usually begin by noting, "FriendFeed is a social bulletin board service". At the most basic level, FriendFeed is a forum. The only difference is that instead of users starting threads, they typically suck in threads from other social services like Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, etc.

There are a variety of popular forum tools including vBulletin and phpBB. I've been using vBulletin on the HTMLCenter web development forums for nearly a decade. vBulletin isn't free; a license costs $180 for life plus $60/year for product upgrades and updates. The software is very powerful, the administrative panel is easy to use and the email support is always very responsive. There's only one real issue with the software - it hasn't moved into 2009. The software still looks and acts as it did 1,2,3, even 5 years ago. You can always tell when a forum is using vBulletin without even looking at the footer. They continue to add improvements and bug fixes which is great but it's time to update the look and the usability to today's standard. The same can be said for phpBB and many of the other forum software packages.

This is where FriendFeed can shine and generate real revenue. They have an awesome opportunity to take over the forum world. While forum software isn't as sexy as creating a Twitter app, there is a real market opportunity which could be there for the taking.

Naturally FriendFeed would need to create a self-hosted version of their tool and modify it to allow for better "forum-like" thread creation. FriendFeed forum owners could also opt to allow their content to be indexed into Friendfeed's new search engine. Take a moment to think about how much more "real-time" data would be included in the FriendFeed search if thousands of popular forums were included/indexed.

The FriendFeed forum service would also allow for better integration with Twitter, naturally Friendfeed and all of the other services FriendFeed will push to in the future. What this means is that forum owners would have new ways to get traffic to their forums.

In addition, there are loads of developers who build apps for vBulletin and my guess is that they might switch to building apps for the Friendfeed forum service. It could be a way to get developers excited about FriendFeed.

I know I would switch my forums over to this new offering and would pay the same price I do to vBulletin. If they created a tie into Wordpress, the FriendFeed forums service could became an even sweeter offering.

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