It was only last week Google lost it’s bid to Microsoft to invest in FaceBook and now the company is announcing that it will be releasing a set of API’s that will not only work with Orkut but other social networking sites as well provided they participate. TechCrunch is reporting that the participating host social networks, include Orkut, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Hi5, Plaxo, Friendster, Viadeo and Oracle.
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.
The question is what is Google’s strategy vis a vis OpenSocial? Even more so would we even be having this conversation if Google had been the one investing in FaceBook and not Microsoft? IMO I’m afraid the only strategy here is to beat Microsoft and they are calling a play from the old play book that has worked for them several times against Microsoft. Now that Microsoft stands to bite a huge chunk of advertising revenues with the FaceBook deal, Google is striking back to protect what has traditionally been their territory. Isolating FaceBook and Microsoft is clearly the strategy and they are doing this by exploiting the fact that FaceBook is a closed platform. By allowing third party developers to access data from any social networking site and using that data in their own applications and perhaps monetizing it, Google is hoping to steal the thunder away from FaceBook.
IMO, the only problem is FaceBook is pretty well entrenched right now and the only reason people are signing up on FaceBook is because their friends are on it. I don’t think the average user is going to care what type of applications are available on the site. It should be pretty interesting to see how this one pans out.