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Why Should Developers Build for Facebook’s New Camera?

When Facebook announced this week it would open its camera for developers to build photo frames and interactive effects, it was careful not to outline any business case for developers in the new concepts. It seemed to be a response to last year’s event, when Facebook was seen as over-promising the commercial potential of bots being rolled out for Messenger. That ended up upsetting developers who found they didn’t get as much traction as expected for their apps.

But Facebook may have overcorrected, leaving wide open the question of what developers can hope to get out of the new technology. Facebook engineering director Ficus Kirkpatrick said he was asked several times at F8 why developers should build  capabilities such as 3-D face masks for Facebook. He seemed to go out of his way to push that issue off for the future.

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One of those beta partners, Giphy, was enthusiastic but tried to keep expectations in check. “Some users would be nice who find this habitually something they want to go back to,” said David Rosenberg, Giphy’s director of business development. “But it’s probably not a crazy thing to suggest that the camera is the new frontier. If you’re not thinking about the camera because you don’t have resources, suddenly what Facebook launched changed that.”

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Quietly, developers are skeptical. On the sidelines of the conference, one said it seemed like Facebook was just showing off products “aimed at my 13-year old son.”