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OpenSocial: Future for Facebook, Concerns


OpenSocial, Google’s social networking platform standardization initiative, seems to have usurped Facebook’s usual share of media attention since the announcement on Wednesday—and with Facebook’s impending ad announcement, that’s a pretty remarkable feat.

But now at least one Facebook investor seems to see the right way to get all that lovely attention back: start talking about joining up with OpenSocial. CNET’s Caroline McCarthy reports that Facebook investor and board member Jim Breyer of Accel Partners is saying that a future collaboration is a possibility.

“Jim said that the company isn’t philosophically opposed to what Google is trying to do, and that its business model isn’t dependent on keeping its social network gated,” Kafka wrote in the Alley Insider post. “He also acknowledged that users will want to be able to port their data, networks, connections, etc., from Facebook to other networks, and vice versa, and suggested that something like that may be possible within a year.”

McCarthy makes some excellent points on what could very well happen if Facebook does sign on with OpenSocial:

Plenty of critics would see it as not only a concession of defeat, but also as a sign that a social-networking brand like Facebook may be destined to remain on the level of other social media sites rather than on a par with major Web presences like Google or Yahoo. . . . An OpenSocial partnership would, in a sense, place it among the rank and file in Google’s herd.

Of course, Facebook isn’t the only one who might want to be concerned about OpenSocial. Marshall Kirkpatrick at Read/WriteWeb lists his own concerns about OpenSocial:

  • Is Google Exercising Leadership or Control?: Will Google be involved with and monitor all of these apps, or can the developers bypass Google and use the social networks and OpenSocial without Google’s involvement?
  • Are These Write-Only APIs?: “Will one network be able to pull in bio, friend and interest data from another? . . . As some people have told me tonight, it may have been more accurate to call this ‘OpenWidget’ – though the press wouldn’t have been as good. We’ve been waiting for data and identity portability – is this all we get?”
  • If This Is Good, Will Official Sanction Kill It?: “Why couldn’t this all be based on microformats and other existing open standards? Why the mysterious, brand-driven, limited APIs?”

Of course, my favorite comment on the RWW post reminded me that, as popular as apps, platforms and APIs are with developers & our ilk, they’re just bells and whistles for most users:

People didn’t join Facebook to add apps to their profiles, and they’re not going to migrate elsewhere for the sake of a different API. No one is going to think, “Well, my friends are all on Facebook, but Orkut lets me help some third-rate startup monetize its assets by scattering random widgetjunk across my public profile… so it’s Orkut for me!”

I have to agree: no matter how “open” or “social,” these apps will try to be, I just don’t see them being a selling point for prospective members. However, we should keep in mind that current members may really enjoy these options—and creating passionate users is just as important as converting new ones.

What do you see in the future for OpenSocial?

  • http://www.brianchappell.com Brian Chappell

    I think Facebook really needs to weigh it’s options here and seriously think about joining.

  • http://www.youtube-video-izle.com vidi

    The basic approach is to present a platform for people to meet. It should be simple yet satisfying. Google as a search engine has this capability where it finds the background and power to get into other areas such as opensocials or youtube. In short, power draws power.

  • http://www.totalrant.com db

    Sounds like someone is trying to cover his bets (sorry investment). But he’s right its better to be a small part of something that is big rather than something that disappears in five years time.

  • http://www.gowfb.com GoWFB

    I think increasingly, Google is exercising control and not leadership.

    A bunch of bloggers angry with google these days, came up with the Google page rank victim buttons. I thought that was really funny! :)

  • http://www.minicix.com minicix

    Facebook will do whatever is good for the company and the best part is that we-the users will profit from this.

  • http://www.amishtables.com Dining Tables

    As a user for who all this is just bells and whistles, I am an user of Facebook as it is, and unless something changes radically, I am unlikely to migrate from them.

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    The same comment caught my eye as well. I agree people aren’t going to automatically leave Facebook because of an API. However from a developer’s perspective if you’re going to write an app would you choose to write it so it works on one network or on many networks?

    People won’t leave Facebook because they can’t get a specific app, but they probably will look at another network because of that same specific app. And in time they might find themselves on spending more time on those other sites.

    It only takes a few of the cool kids to decide to migrate before the masses follow.

    Concerns or no it’s probably in Facebook’s best interest to join OpenSocial.

  • lawrence goldstein

    Facebook is toast! this is a killer app. Myspace and Google together is a unbeatable one two punch. Besides, Facebook is still on a learning curve as can be seen by how they are constantly changing their developers documentation and rules for conducting business on the platform not to mention apps disappearing into thin air. Google/Myspace is the gold standard and will implement OpenSocial much more smoothly. Facebook is a walled garden and it indiscriminately picks and chooses which apps get high visibility while it tweaks it’s platform to keep other apps from suceeding.also they deny apps submission into their directory on a whim. they’re a bunch of nuvo rich wannabe stuckup spoiled brats who thought they had the world on a string. now they must eat humble pie and bow down and kiss the ring that is Google/Myspace. Oh well,so much for Facebooks 15 billion dollar valuation. they’ll be lucky if they can get 1 billion now. why develope on Facebook which claims to have 50 million members when you can develope on Google’s/Myspace platform which has 200 million members…do the math. Facebook is toast!

  • http://www.acopic.co.uk Neil Turner

    I have to say that having an open-platform to share data amongst your social networking tools makes perfect sense. Why have multiple profiles and multiple logins when you can have 1.

    In response to some of the comments above – personally I think Facebook is far,far better than myspace. Just my opinion though.

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