Monday, November 5, 2007

OpenSocial out in the open

As Google OpenSocial launched formally Nov. 1st more and more information gets available.

And OpenSocial sites are already up and running. Plaxo announced that they are live, not surprisingly Orkut also have a live sandbox environment and Ning also went live with OpenSocial support.

The actual API is still in version 0.5, and not formally released. This means that the details will change and evolve. Some issues have been reported with the current live sites. One application running on Plaxo have been hacked, but probably because of the code in the app. rather than than the API iteslf. Also some problems have been reported around the Orkut sandbox.

OpenSocial have happened quite fast. Joseph Smarr from Plaxo have an interesting post outlining the short time used to develop the Plaxo OpenSocial support. Also watch the video in his post.

Both Bebo and MySpace joined the initiative. Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo is still missing. For how long? What should Facebook do?

So - will OpenSocial change the world?
And how? What will it provide, and more interesting, what will it not provide?
A number of questions are still open for speculation.

Good for developers
OpenSocial is still mainly, of not only, a value proposition for application developers who wants to launch their applications across multiple Social Networks.
From that perspective it is good for developers. A common API to use that will ensure that their applications are likely to run on many Social Networks. I say likely. As with many such API I expect that there will be details in the implementation that differs between those who implement the SPI side (the "containers", the Social Networks).

Good for the SoNets
It is also a good move for most Social Networks. Everyone are eager to jump on the route to success that an open API seems to be. Not that an open API will give you success directly, but it will be hard not to have one.
With OpenSocial there is no need for each SoNet to define their own API, and try to get the developer's community on board. Instead there will be a defined API (or SPI actually) to implement.

Good for the consumers?
But what about you and me? The users of Social Networks? Will we see any difference?
Probably not in the short term. Over time the number of available applications will grow, and that is probably a good thing to most of us.
But this also means we need not only to trust the SoNets with our data, but also a number of small and big applications providers. Privacy will continue to be discussed.

And for the SocialGraph?
Will OpenSocial add any value to the SocialGraph problem? Probably over time, but initially it is more or less a "Gadget" framework as it seems.
And as Bob Warfield writes: "Who will be first to write an app whose sole purpose is to carry your identity and Social Graph from one network to the next?"

Where does this place Google?
Friend or foe? How will Google benefit from OpenSocial?

One obviuos angle is that Orkut from Google is implementing OpenSocial. And I still don't believe we have seen the last around Google Contacts. What I saw the other day has very little "social" aspects targeted. Expect that Google Contacts goes social soon. (Is this what maka-maka is really about?)

Another discussion is around the overall role Google aims at. "Is Google Exercising Leadership or Control?"


And what about Facebook?
Yes. What about Facebook? Cornered or not? I would say no, not cornered. The main value for SoNets are still the user base. And Facebook is where the crowd goes right now.

The vasty majority of users have not heard about OpenSocial, and couldn't care less. Even if the playground is changing, it is changing slowly for the masses. If you have joined Facebook because a lot of your friends are there you are likely to hang around for a while.

Also, develpers will not abandon Facebook just because of OpenSocial. There's also voices that the Facebook API is better that OpenSocial.

Who will move next?
What will the next move be?
Facebook will move further into the mobile space, and also launch SocialAds.
What's the next move from OpenSocial?

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