Wednesday, October 31, 2007

OpenSocial: Facebook Watch Your (Face)Back

October 31, 2007
Google and Friends to Gang Up on Facebook
By MIGUEL HELFT and BRAD STONE


SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 30 — Google and some of the Web’s leading social networks are teaming up to take on the new kid on the block — Facebook.

On Thursday, an alliance of companies led by Google plans to begin introducing a common set of standards to allow software developers to write programs for Google’s social network, Orkut, as well as others, including LinkedIn, hi5, Friendster, Plaxo and Ning.
The strategy is aimed at one-upping Facebook, which last spring opened its service to outside developers. Since then, more than 5,000 small programs have been built to run on the Facebook site, and some have been adopted by millions of the site’s users. [snip]
[snip]

“It is going to forestall Facebook’s ability to get everyone writing just for Facebook,” said a person with knowledge of the plans who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the alliance. The group’s platform, which is called OpenSocial, is “compatible across all the companies,” that person said.
[snip]

The alliance includes business software makers Salesforce.com and Oracle, who are moving to let third-party programmers write applications that can be accessed by their customers. The start of OpenSocial comes just a week after Google lost to Microsoft in a bid to invest in Facebook and sell advertising on the social network’s pages outside the United States.
[snip]

Facebook’s success with its platform has proved that the combination of social data and news feeds is a powerful mechanism to help developers distribute their software. They are now seen as must-have functions for many Internet companies. [snip]

For now, however, Facebook has become the preferred platform for software developers. By teaming with others, Google hopes to create a rival platform that could have broad appeal to developers. A person briefed on the plans said the sites in the alliance had a combined 100 million users, more than double the size of Facebook.

[snip]

For Google, the effort could breathe new life into Orkut, which is popular in Brazil and other countries, but not in the United States[snip].

[snip]

Google has not been able to establish itself as a force in social networking, and it clearly wants to. “One of the things to say, very clearly, is that social networks as a phenomenon are very real,” Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, said in a recent interview. “If you are of a certain age, you sort of dismiss this as college kids or teenagers. But it is very real.”


[snip]

[snip] Mr. Kraus said that over time Google hoped to bring other social elements to Web applications, whether or not they run inside social networks. Analysts expect other Google services, including iGoogle, to be equipped with social features eventually.

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