[Note 6/29/07: I wrote & published this post when Facebook announced F8. Like everyone who loves this game, my thinking evolves, and I think differently now about Facebook & The Most Interesting Strategic Move in Recent Technology History. Unfortunately, managing Meetup leaves too little time & freedom to write it up!]
AOL 94 vs. Facebook 07 While at Sony in 1994, I was sent to Virginia to learn how to build a Sony "app" on AOL (the #3 online service, behind Compuserve & Prodigy at the time) using AOL's proprietary "rainman" platform.
Fast forward to Facebook 2007 and see similarities: If you want access to their big base of users, develop something in their proprietary language for their people who live in their walled garden. Strangely, many young facebookizens aren't very net savvy (facebook *is* their internet) & they have little desire to go beyond the walled garden -- just like the old AOL users. There's even a proprietary Facebook messaging system (kids don't use much open internet email).
Differences: No BD contract necessary, open internet (& links to developer on open net), and tap into rich social data on users.
No doubt, Facebook Apps is amazing. An amazing strategy that could yield real benefits for the people. Even the super-net-savvy are loving how easy it is to add apps to their account. "So easy, no wonder it's #1."