For as much as we Fools castigate Facebook for its profit-starved business model, its reputation as a toy, and its odd equity practices, there's no doubting its power as a platform. For developers, Facebook can be a huge moneymaker.
Witness Mob Wars. Developer Analytics says that the game, which has more than 52,000 fans, pulls in $22,000 a day in revenue. That's more than $8 million annualized.
I've been invited to play Mob Wars several times but, honestly, I'm afraid of the game's addictive power. So is screenwriter J.C. Tregarthen, who told me in a Facebook chat earlier today that he's trying to cut back on his play due to time constraints. He's not alone: A search of "Mob Wars" and "addictive" yields 157,000 hits.
As an investor, I find this interesting because it proves that network effects can be as powerful in social circles as they are in e-commerce. Think about that. We've assumed that network-driven e-commerce businesses such as eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY ) , Blue Nile (Nasdaq: NILE ) , and Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN ) were a breed apart from their social brethren.
If they're not -- if social networks create exponential value as they grow, just as e-commerce networks do -- then it's possible that the Facebook ecosystem will produce the sort of outsized returns Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) is hoping for. And, if that's true, it won't be long before Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) makes an even bigger bet on the social sphere.
Mob Wars and popular peers FunSpace and SuperWall won't transform Facebook into Google. Or, if they do, it won't be soon. What they've proven instead is that all digital networks, when they're engaged, can unleash an abundance of real-world riches.
Over time, Facebook's value will correlate to the number of engaging digital networks it attracts versus those that migrate to News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS ) MySpace or elsewhere. That's a massive opportunity, Mr. Zuckerberg. Will you seize it?
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