OpenSocial: The Lowest Common Denominator?

Google’s OpenSocial is becoming the lowest common denominator for application integration in the social media space. That’s actually not that great for Google as it is rarely the case that the most successful applications run on the lowest common denominator platform. Best implies leadership and innovation. You can’t get that just by being one of the gang. Some observations:

  • Facebook is the place to be in social apps right now and, as the leader in the category, they are not planning on supporting OpenSocial anytime soon.
  • On Monday, LinkedIn announced they are opening up and adding they own “set of REST APIs and widgets” and “have announced support for Google’s Open Social platform and will include other ways in the future as well”.
  • Friendster is also opening up and has said that “OpenSocial APIs will be integrated into the Friendster Developer Platform when the much-stalled OpenSocial is completed and secure.”
  • Not to be outdone, Bebo has launched an open application platform to complement its open media platform. Rather than joining up with OpenSocial, Bebo essentially cloned the Facebook APIs, e.g., they have SNQL (Social Network Query Language) for Facebook’s FQL and SNML (Social Network Markup Language) for Facebook’s FBML. 

In other words, OpenSocial is great but if you really want to work with us, use our native APIs. This situation complicates life for social application developers as the cost of experimentation and porting remains relatively high. Most application developers will choose to launch initially on Facebook to “test the market” and, if they see success, try others (Bebo because the port will be easy or OpenSocial, if its capabilities would support the application).

It would be interesting to see how much farther beyond OpenSocial MySpace goes. They may set the bar for OpenSocial. Since MySpace is not at heart a technology company, perhaps they will partner with Google to jointly figure this out.

About Simeon Simeonov

Entrepreneur. Investor. Trusted advisor.
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1 Response to OpenSocial: The Lowest Common Denominator?

  1. Pingback: MySpace + Google >= Facebook? « HighContrast

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