Thursday, November 1, 2007


I've been putting this off for a couple of days, but let's look at what some people are saying about OpenSocial.

I'll start with Michael Arrington at TechCrunch:

Details emerged today on Google’s broad social networking ambitions....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.

What they haven’t done is launch yet another social network platform. As more and more of these platforms launch, developers have difficult choices to make. There are costs associated with writing and maintaining applications for these social networks. Most developers will choose one or two platforms and ignore the rest, based on a simple cost/benefit analysis.

Google wants to create an easy way for developers to create an application that works on all social networks. And if they pull it off, they’ll be in the center, controlling the network....

Partners are in two categories: hosts and developers. Hosts are the participating social networks, and include Orkut, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Hi5, Plaxo, Friendster, Viadeo and Oracle.

Developers include Flixster, iLike, RockYou and Slide.

All of this was being discussed just after Microsoft announced its investment in Facebook. Therefore, a lot of OpenSocial commentary compared the new tools to Facebook, with varying conclusions.

Francine Hardaway:

I would not like to be Microsoft(MSFT) tonight. After investing heavily in Facebook, Mr. Softie will have to "face" the fact that Google's(GOOG) new social networking API will be a strong competitor for Facebook's platform.

Now I don't know squat about APIs, but I do know that anything that makes it easier for a developer to repurpose his content (or use the same widget) over several social networks will be a success.

Robert Scoble:

Anyone remember Friendster? It was an early entrant into the social networking scene. If they had done their work right they SHOULD have been a much bigger player than they are now.

Why aren’t they?

1. They didn’t take care of PR and didn’t take care of bloggers. Hmmm, Facebook is doing exactly the same thing. Several people at the dinner tonight noted that Facebook hasn’t responded to claims that Facebook’s employees are spying on data that the public doesn’t have access to. And that’s just one PR complaint.
2. They kicked people out that they didn’t like. Hmmm, Facebook is doing exactly the same thing.
3. They didn’t respond to new competitors who took away their coolness. Facebook? They are about to meet their biggest competition yet.

On the other hand, this is wh - here's what Dave Winer said:

Standards devised by one tech company whose main purpose is to undermine another tech company, usually don't work.

In this case it's Google trying to undermine Facebook.

And I don't think it's going to work....

When Google makes their announcement on Thursday, the question they should be asked by everyone is -- How much of my data are you letting me control today? That's pretty much all that matters to anyone, imho.

As of now (8:00 am Pacific Daylight Time, doesn't mention OpenSocial yet. I just hope they don't launch it at 3:30 (2230 GMT); things will be crowded enough with the MicroMedia Meetup.

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