New media wars heat up

Social networking giant Facebook has thrown down the gauntlet to comparative newcomer Twitter by launching a Twittereque stripped-back version of its own service- Facebook Lite.

The new Facebook offering is currently only available in certain areas (including here, within the past few minutes it would seem), but it marks the biggest of recent moves by Facebook to gain back some of the ground lost to Twitter in recent months.
One the key features of Facebook Lite is the introduction of ‘@ replies’, one of the cornerstones of Twitter’s offering. This is clearly an attempt to make Facebook more appealing for conversational exchange, a move which will be helped by the removal of much of the clutter that clogs up ‘Facebook Classic’. It’ll also help direct creative app development back in the direction of Facebook.

Essentially what Facebook is doing is adopting the best features of Twitter, which have made the latter so popular so quickly, to ensure it remains relevant to its users (and advertisers). No doubt there will be further developments to finesse it and make it an even stronger challenge to the Twitter’s microblogging position.

This move also presents a major challenge to Twitter- with its larger rival having many times more members, it may struggle to maintain the uniqueness of its offering. The development also removes much of the problems faced by Facebook users with slow net connections who have to wait forever-and-a-day for the old version to load, something which had put it at a disadvantage compared with Twitter.

Meanwhile, Twitter’s founder Biz Stone has blogged that “we leave the door open for advertising,” hinting that his service may move to put itself on a more sound financial footing moving forward, converting an astronomical growth in usage and interest into a money-spinning enterprise.