The Facebook OS

Social Networks The addendum to Zynga’s S-1 filed with the SEC yesterday is raising eyebrows for what it reveals about the extent of Zynga’s dependence on the continued goodwill of the social network.  But content creators and publishers should also take note of what it reveals of Facebook’s own ambitions.

Exhibit G to the addendum sets out (partially redacted) terms of the agreement between the two companies for something called the Zynga Platform. Zynga’s precise plans for the platform are not revealed in the document (they may be discussed in redacted portions). But it would appear to be a quasi proprietary game-development platform built by Zynga that would sit on top of the Facebook platform and allow third-party developers to create games that leverage Zynga’s deep integration with Facebook.

At the heart of the Zynga platform will be a “Facebook Zynga SDK:

As used herein, “Facebook Zynga SDK” means a software development kit that Zynga develops for distribution on the Facebook Site in accordance with all the SDK Requirements solely (1) to facilitate the development of games on the Zynga Platform that use the Core Social [i.e. Facebook] APIs and (2) for the purpose of caching, instrumentation, graceful degradation, performance, security, logging, infrastructure or statistics related solely to the Core Social APIs.


As between the parties, Facebook retains the sole right to distribute the Facebook Zynga SDK to third parties, and Facebook will provide a summary description of the Facebook Zynga SDK in the developer section of the Facebook Site with a download link to the developer portion of a Zynga Property for the Documentation. The Zynga Platform may make calls to Core Social APIs on behalf of games, provided that the Zynga API provides only substantially different functionality than the Core Social APIs and does not combine any such functionality(ies) to serve as a replacement for any of the Core Social APIs.

One way to read that is that Facebook is laying the groundwork to enable multiple development environments to emerge for social media content and applications, all of which would hook into the basic Facebook platform but are free to innovate and develop their own ecosystems and APIs so long as they remain firmly tethered to the mother ship.

That’s basically an OS strategy, not just a social networking strategy. It might also help explain why Facebook and Microsoft have been so…well, friendly of late. If there’s one thing Microsoft can learn ya it’s how to run an OS strategy.