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OpenSocial, Google's Open Answer to Facebook

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.

90 Responses to “OpenSocial, Google's Open Answer to Facebook”

  1. I don’t know if they can really get somewhere with that as almost everyone is already registered at one or more social networks and how much more can people really handle? isn’t it enough already?

    The should simply develop an existing social network to the open source network they had in mind.

    I hope that for once Google won’t be as successful.

  2. hey Nano – sorry about that issue you had with (I own the site). I had a development team do some work and they had a bad script that caused what you saw. Needless to say, the code is completely different now & I no longer do work with that development team.

  3. OpenSocial is sure going to cause a revolution in the social networking arena. I believe its still in quite a nascent stage, but with so much momentum behind it, it should grow fast into becoming the default social network platform.
    Some sites have already spawned aiming to bring OpenSocial developers together. Check this out-

  4. I agree with John McCrea, OpenSocial will foster innovation. In any discipline, openness and collaboration foster innovation – the open source software movement is one example of this. The trend towards opening up API’s is creating a range of novel applications. It also makes the end user experience less fragmented and more useful and personally relevant. The user needs to feel empowered with the new wave of applications and not as though they’re being randomly bitten by a chump unless they request to be!
    Developers need to consider building end user choice and control into their cross platform social apps.

  5. Has anyone checked out the links
    from the “Who’s Using It” Site on
    Google’s OpenSocial ?

    Some of the sites are made by companies
    and some are personal.
    but this site has a virus!!

    When I accessed the site ,my Security Software
    caught a virus! (script?)

    anyone else??

  6. A few questions I haven’t seen anybody raise yet:

    1. Are these APIs / Protocols going to be standardized by any international standards body (ECMA, OSI, IETF, etc) or will the always be under Google’s control?

    2. What will the terms of use be? Eg, if I want my social network host to support OpenSocial, what are the license terms to implement OS?

    3. Will Google provide any implementation of the protocols for (server side | client side | both | neither)? If so, how will they be licensed?

    Personally I think this sounds like a good thing in general, but until they actually release whatever it is they’re releasing, I worry that a lot of us are putting the cart before the horse.

    Finally, if anybody is interested in building a truly decentralized, federated social networking platform (Open Source, of course) see