Facebook Ban and Local Entrepreneurs – Analysis by Hassan Baig of White Rabbit

Original posted on Green & White on May 21, 2010

When Facebook was banned my first thoughts moved to the apps we covered recently Feline FrenzyCarom Challenge and Fly By, what effects does this have on them the development efforts and traffic etc.

Hassan Baig (White Rabbit) the creators of Feline Frenzy, has provided once again a very insightful view of things. Note to other young entrepreneurs this is the level of understanding of your target audience and market you should have to have a shot at success, you should be able to reorganize quickly in any circumstances. For me I am now a permanent fan of Hassan will try to pick his brain every now and then. Following is his un altered response. And once again thanks for him to take time out to share his thoughts for others to learn from.

This short-term hiccup is inconsequential to Facebook developers in Pakistan. For example, Facebook is completely banned in Iran and China but users who want to access it are still able to do so thanks to proxy servers and such. In other words, developers are still free to develop for the global market.

However, if a developer’s focusing on the local market as a target, they could find themselves in rough waters in case this ban extends beyond 31st of May.

So that’s the short term ripple.

Could there be a longer term consequence too? Yes there could. However, before we get to what the long term worst case looks like, I’d like to point out that Facebook’s facing a perfect storm right now in the shape of the confluence of the following occurrences:

  • Public concern for Facebook’s abuse of privacy policy.
  • Privacy concerns compounded by Zuckerberg’s recently revealed IM transcript. A PR nightmare, that.
  • Farmville’s maker Zynga’s aggressive posturing against Facebook. And though their initial threat of completely boycotting Facebook may have subsided, enough feathers have been ruffled to hint at a mercurial future.
  • And last but not least, the backlash against Facebook emanating from Muslim countries headed by Pakistan’s country-wide blackout.

Clearly, all of these grievances can be dealt with by an efficient, responsible management. However, Zuckerberg’s never been a smooth operator and there exist several question marksover his suitability as the company’s continued leader. So it’s conceivable that even as the social networking giant is getting ready to announce 500 million users, its future may not pan out to be what Zuckerberg dreamed of in his Harvard dorm.

So then, what’s the worst case scenario?

Facebook’s user growth first plateaus and then starts dwindling (much like what’s happeningto Myspace).

And this is how such an eventuality can be catalyzed: A simpler, more private social networking tool with strong VC funding comes to the fore. Or, other social networks jump at the opportunity and cannibalize Facebook’s popularity. Or both.

How can the Facebook development community deal with this? Well firstly by realizing that theworst case scenario described above may not happen, at least not in the short term. In the medium and long term, there are ways to diversify their product offering.

For instance, building social applications with the Open Social standard can open up your social application to hi5, LinkedIn, MySpace, Netlog, Ning, Orkut, and Yahoo. Out of all of these, the highest recommended is hi5 – which is turning out to be a very lucrative distribution platform with good leadership and business sense. And infact, hi5′s looking to sync itself with theFacebook API too, so one doesn’t necessarily have to endorse Open Social to deploy on it. Hi5′s worth a look for any social game development company out there.

Overall, social game developers have the luxury to keep their options open in the long term. The current Facebook fiasco though is a good wakeup call for those who haven’t thought about diversification yet. Never keep all eggs in one basket, and keep researching in this fast-paced, thoroughly dynamic industry. Those who anticipate and plan for future disruptions will truly go big.

By Hassan Baig | Posted on September 14th, 2010
Category: Social Gaming
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