Let’s Open the Social
I thought Google was supposed to launch its big social initiative on Nov. 5th? However, the news today is that Google will announce OpenSocial on Thursday.
The new project, called OpenSocial (URL will go live on Thursday), goes well beyond what we’ve previously reported. It is a set of common APIs that application developers can use to create applications that work on any social networks (called “hosts”) that choose to participate.
The list of partners includes Orkut, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Hi5, Plaxo, Friendster, Viadeo and Oracle. Missing from this, as was to be expected, is the grand-daddy of social networks, Facebook.
The way I understand this project, Google will basically be the middleman (or the ring that binds them all), allowing developers to create applications the will work across social networks. However, I guess that means this will also allow for exchanging profile information between networks, basically creating a meta-social network (though I am not sure about this yet).
As Richard MacManus points out, this will be a huge boon for the smaller networks, who can now compete on size against Facebook (assuming that size is what matter to make a social network popular).
Personally, I think the app platforms are not really where it’s at when it comes to social networks. The core experience of the network is far more important than any games involving vampires or the ability to read an RSS feed.
What we really need is completely open doors between the networks. Social networks should interact in some standardized form, just like email does. Until that happens, I prefer to use my blog as my social network. Maybe Google can facilitate that.