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Summary:

Google’s (GOOG) much awaited answer to Facebook ecosystem is finally coming to light. The existence of this Google platform was first reported by TechCrunch and is going to become official tomorrow. Google will announce its new social networking initiative, Open Social on Thursday. Joining Google and […]

opensocial2.gifGoogle’s (GOOG) much awaited answer to Facebook ecosystem is finally coming to light. The existence of this Google platform was first reported by TechCrunch and is going to become official tomorrow.

Google will announce its new social networking initiative, Open Social on Thursday. Joining Google and its Orkut social network are other partners such as XING, Friendster, hi5, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Newsgator and Ning.

OpenSocial is a set of common APIs for building social applications on the web. These common APIs mean that developers only have to learn once in order to start building social applications for multiple websites, and any website will be able to implement OpenSocial and host social applications.

OpenSocial attacks Facebook where it is the weakest (and the strongest): its quintessential closed nature. Several Facebook developers have groused that a special Facebook-only mark-up language makes the task of writing Facebook apps tougher. (Recommended reading: Anil Dash on the historical limitations of proprietary development platforms.)

Google has managed to attract some of the key Facebook app companies Flixster, Rock You, Slide, and iLike to work with them on OpenSocial. The lure of expanding their widget base to other Social platforms such as hi5 and XING, perhaps was too hard for them to resist.

Even if you take Facebook out of the equation, the task of writing and adapting widgets for the every increasing number of social platforms was going to turn into a colossal mess. OpenSocial looks to address some of those issues. This is a mild negative for start-ups who are offering middleware services around widgets.

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  1. Om,
    I was hoping you’d elaborate much more commenting on the strategy of Google. In my very limited understanding, I don’t see this as a potential threat to Facebook from the advertising perspective. Would Google have access to the user profile of all the “hosts”? So, what if its providing this API to tie in widget development? Apart from taking away the exclusivity of some of FB apps (perhaps) how is Google benefiting here? (Apart from the orkut data it has ofcoz).

    I thought you could comment on these issues rather than having an “informative” post which is more like a news headline repeat.

    Cheers1

  2. Gaurav Kanoongo Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    This is exactly what was expected.

  3. Isn’t this becoming more and more confusing. There is a old saying ” When Elephants make love or war the grass gets trampled”

    FOr small businesses who are looking to use social media to futher thier business whare do they start ?

  4. I’m guessing there are going to be lots of caveats to this announcement. LinkedIn has repeatedly said that anyone will NOT be able to launch a LinkedIn app. Maybe they are going back on that, but maybe they will only let SalesForce launch an app…and who cares if they do it on OpenSocial.

    http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/linkedin-plans-to-open-up-in-a-closed-sort-of-way/

  5. Does this mean I’ll be able to add my friends to any one of the networks and it will get added to all of them? What does this mean for users of these host networks, apart from the proliferation of apps?

  6. This is changes the landscape dramatically. We’ll see an acceleration in innovation now, like we did in ’95 and ’96. I think this is the immune system of the Internet rising to the Balkanization threat posed by Facebook and other walled gardens. More of my take on this here: http://therealmccrea.wordpress.com/2007/10/31/did-you-feel-the-earth-move-google-shakes-things-up/

  7. Om,
    what role is google playing here. Are they trying to be the middle man for all the developer community and small startups that write widgets. If that is the case- who is making the money?. Or- are they playing the role of a widgetbox with API’s to access other social network community.
    Even I have written something about this news in my blog. Neverthless, I would love to hear your insights on this.

  8. metarand » Google set to outopen in face/space race Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    [...] Malik feels that Open Social is attacking Facebooks achilles heel – its quintessential closed nature. A [...]

  9. The timing of this announcement was likely driven more by the markets than by technical/internet issues. Google had to respond to Microsoft’s moves so they needed to get this announcement done. More info and a clearer picture in the near future.

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