Facebook Takes on Twitter and Google+ With ‘Subscribe’ Button

Facebook Inc. has taken on Twitter and Google+ with a series of updates and clever tweaks, ahead of its annual developers conference next week.

Facebook has had a busy seven days – with the release of its new smart friends lists suspiciously similar to ‘Circles’ on Google+, becoming the biggest web brand in America by a country mile and now having launched a subscribe button – in a direct attack on Twitter’s territory.

All of these moves have come a week ahead of the company’s annual developers conference, f8, which will be held on September 22 in California, at which Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief, is expected to unveil a supreme digital music service, in partnership with the likes of Spotify and Mog.

In short, Facebook is making good on its promise to become a platform on the internet and not a just a website – meaning that everything online could eventually have some kind of Facebook tool attached to it or some kind presence on the site.

When I toured Facebook HQ this summer, Carl Sjogreen, product manager for the Facebook Platform (‘Platform’ is the part of Facebook which allows other websites to integrate Facebook apps or tools), told me that Facebook becoming an internet platform rather than just a single destination site, was the key to stop it suffering the same ‘fad’ fate as MySpace and is the reason why the service has continued to grow.

“Any destination site has limited potential. It only contains the features that the team can build as quickly as they can create them,” he explained.

“Being a platform allows your Facebook identity to become a service for the whole web…We are not going to be able to build everything – but if we can create an eco-system – as we are doing around our service, it will make continuing coming to Facebook a more interesting experience. There is now a whole industry built on our platform which is invested in Facebook’s success.”

Facebook’s ecosystem is just getting bigger and bigger, as it fast becomes a web within the web. As with any business, the ultimate sign of success is to become indispensable to your users – and that’s what this 750 million-strong social network is trying to achieve at the expense of its biggest rivals.

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