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Last week, Facebook thwarted Google (NSDQ: GOOG) by accepting Microsoft’s (NSDQ: MSFT) $240 million offer for a minority stake in the company. Now, instead of investing in the social net, Google is aligning with other community sites to take on Facebook’s successful efforts to get developers to create programs designed to enhance the site’s use. Google’s OpenSocial platform is meant to encourage developers to do the same for its social network Orkut and other sites.
The NYT reports that Google will unveil the new service on Thursday. By partnering other social nets such as LinkedIn, hi5, Friendster, Plaxo and Ning, Google’s rival platform should have wider compatibility. Business software makers Salesforce.com and Oracle, who are also allowing outside development, are part of the Google alliance.
Google has invited some of Facebook’s more notable third-party developers, including iLike, Slide, Frixter and RockYou, to the event at its Mountain View, CA headquarters Thursday night. The companies are expected to detail plans to offer their applications to the OpenSocial sites.
For the moment, at least, Facebook doesn’t have much to worry about. Google’s Orkut, while popular in Brazil, has very little traction in the U.S., which might hamper efforts to attract more developers to OpenSocial. But if the gambit works, aside from slowing Facebook’s ascendency, OpenSocial might prove to be the shot in the arm that Orkut and the other sites desperately need.