Facebook's Lite Touch Has Heavy Implications


Facebook Lite, which went live on Thursday in both the U.S. and India has been in beta test for about a month. In mid-August, Facebook mistakenly sent out what its representatives said were too many invitations to test the service, which in look and feel is a bit like Facebook's mobile version and limits functions to comments, writing on users' walls, looking at photos and confirming friend requests.

At the time of its leak, we thought it strange that Facebook wouldn't be forthcoming with a version that opens it up to so many untapped customers, and our opinion hasn't changed. Why would Facebook wait on Lite when so many of its social networking competitors -- including, yes, Twitter -- are growing based on the no-frills ease-of-use of their platforms?

It's hard to say who's "winning" the social networking wars, as much as how to "win" them. Sure, Facebook trampled over once-mighty rivals like MySpace and both Facebook and Twitter have posted impressive growth. To be sure, Facebook Lite will only accelerate that growth, as it'll theoretically attract curious users who don't already use Facebook on a daily basis or have yet to dabble on the social network.

The takeaway, however, is versatility: give users as many options as possible, while keeping them on a single platform. Facebook's certainly demonstrated as much, if this year's redesigns, its recent acquisition of FriendFeed, and now Facebook Lite are any indication.

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And it's worth noting, of course, that Facebook users can also tag friends' updates using the "@" symbol -- another tweak that broadens the social network's appeal and gives it a counterpoint to (or, in this case, an exact copy of) attractive Twitter features.

"Friends you tag in your status updates will receive a notification and a Wall post linking them to your post," wrote Facebook engineer Tom Occhino on the Facebook Blog Thursday.

Staying ahead in social networking seems to mean having all bases covered -- is there a Twitter or MySpace trick out there that Facebook has yet to try, to? Drop a note in the ChannelWeb Connect community and let us know.