By Harry McCracken | Monday, August 10, 2009 at 2:45 pm
Facebook, the planet’s largest social-networking site, is buying one that’s relatively small but extremely influential, FriendFeed. The deal involves FriendFeed living on as a standalone site for now, but it sounds like the long-term idea is to build new FriendFeed-like features and technologies into Facebook itself. It’s clearly a major move in Facebook’s chess game with Twitter, and presumably reduces (but doesn’t eliminate) the possibility of Facebook buying Twitter itself at some point.
Reaction among serious FriendFeed fans to the news seems to be largely guarded-to-negative (although FriendDeed überenthusiast Robert Scoble is guardedly optimistic, and here’s Louis Gray’s thoughtful take). Me, I’m basically a FriendFeed dabbler/lurker at best, and I’m keeping my mind open. FriendFeed is impressive in many ways, but it’s complex enough that it’s remained kind of a secret weapon of serious geeks. If there’s one thing Facebook has done well, it’s figured out how to make a complicated (confusing, even) service appealing to millions of people of all sorts. Maybe it’ll be able to work some magic with the FriendFeed team that’ll make all of this makes sense.