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What happened to Facebook Timeline?

14 Nov 2011

The social media circuit was really heating up in September.


After a twelve-week ‘field trial’, Google finally opened Google+ up to the public for the first time, on Wednesday the 21st. Just days later, though, Facebook countered with the unveiling of its own game changer.


Timeline, first shown off at the f8 Facebook developer conference, was presented as a new layout allowing users to plot out the history of their lives on Facebook, due to go public within a few weeks of the unveiling.  


However, even with Google opening its network up for businesses via Google+ Pages last week, Facebook was still yet to release the new feature – and now, people are starting to wonder what’s going on.


Some have pointed to a trademark infringement suit filed by Timelines Inc the week after the unveiling. However, Timelines Inc’s request for an injunction was declined, so there doesn’t seem to be a legal restraint at this stage, and the case isn’t due back in court until December, which would be a huge wait.


The answer could lie in the fact that users with a little technical know-how have been able to access Timeline for a while


Sam Lessin, product manager for Facebook Timeline, recently told Mashable the delay is part of the strategy for easing people into the new feature.


The idea is for the early adopters to familiarise themselves with Timeline so they can ease the transition for the average Facebook user, who is notoriously resistant to change. 


Will it work? We’ll have to wait and see. The fact there’s a strategy at all, though, is a sign of the times. 


Before Google+, Facebook would surely have pushed the change through despite the complaints. The careful approach suggests the networking giant knows there is a serious contender in the wings, just waiting for a chance to strike.