Michael Arrington today wrote about Facebook's new birthday reminder tool and it's impact on app developers in that space... and despite it's seemingly silly topic, it is a very important article because it shows the following: - Applications and their developers are test-beds for Facebook innovation...

- Ultimately though, Facebook controls the product experience AND is capable of making competing apps irrelevant by creating an in-house, native version

- Furthermore, Facebook has (and rightly so) shown a willingness to create native products based on 3rd party innovation. Wall, video and messaging improvements are a great example.

- Consequently, third parties developing on Facebook and third parties cultivating audiences on Facebook *must* be aware that ultimately these users and the greater platform are Facebook's.

You must always ask yourself the common friend-vs-foe question and whether you are creating a defensible, meaningful experience able to live on its own.

Facebook Apps 3rd Parties

Facebook just added another extremely useful feature for users, and in doing so took out a slew of applications that do that same thing. You can now get a weekly email telling you, simply, which friends have birthdays coming up.

That’s good news for all of us who want more birthday information. It’s bad news for Birthday Alert and its clones that already do that on Facebook. Birthday Alert has 180,820 active monthly users...

The title of this post is meant to be a joke, but it definitely sucks to be one of the very many birthday reminder Facebook apps today. Such is life. With a flick of the keyboard Facebook can make your app redundant and pointless. Meanwhile, I happily turned on the new feature, and I can’t wait to be prompted to send people virtual birthday gifts for a small fee.