Kara Swisher has waded into the debate about whether Facebook will be useful for something more than throwing sheep, vampire biting, and giving virtual drinks. While it's true that the most popular applications are silly games, my research indicates there is a latent demand for more serious applications that take advantage of Facebook's built-in social graph and messaging platform. Lee Lorenzen points out in a comment on the Kara's post that Facebook needs just one "killer app" to make the leap to a respected tool, just as VisiCalc led business people to sneak the Apple II into their offices behind the backs of their IT departments.
Of course, while building the application is easy, making it into a successful business takes more work. According to Tim O'Reilly, only 84 of the 5,000 Facebook applications have 87% of the usage. Getting into that top tier is harder now that Facebook has restricted sending messages to users. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who use Facebook every day and keep it open on their screen the way other people use Outlook. Anyone that finds a way to provide continuing utility to that population has a good chance of building a sustainable business.