Big news — Facebook has a new & VERY formidible competitor — “OpenSocial”. The New York Times is reporting that Google and a slew of partners are going to launch OpenSocial on Thursday. What is OpenSocial? TechCrunch says it is

a set of three common APIs, defined by Google with input from partners, that allow developers to access core functions and information at social networks:

  1. Profile Information (user data)
  2. Friends Information (social graph)
  3. Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff)

In addition to Google’s solution to social networking, Orkut, the partners in this project are LinkedIn, hi5, Friendster, Plaxo and Ning — a pretty impressive list (though I didn’t realize anyone still used friendster) of partner sites with a massive collective audience.

Google wants one ring to bind everyone — in otherwards, they want to build a completely open social graph. I really hope this solves the single sign-on issue once and for all. So, what does this mean to Facebook (who is focused on mapping the social graph inside their platform)?

I’ll be the 1st to say, I love Facebook (though I probably have too many apps on my profile that I don’t use) — it keeps me in touch with many, many more people than I could maintain contact with on an individual basis.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, especially without detailed information about how opensocial sites will be connected — but, to compete with the “openness” of opensocial, it seems Facebook is going to have to allow developers to build apps that integrate with fb that function outside of Facebook. The web is opening up — a walled garden is not going to work in the long-term. I should be able to login to any website and that site should be able to utilize (w/ my permission) both my lists of friends & profile information to provide a more valuable experience than without that information. Entering personal information on EVERY single site is annoying as hell, yet right now, it’s almost essential to get any value out of all these new web 2.0 sites. Hopefully, OpenSocial can relieve this annoyance across the web.

This is probably a separate conversation, but where does this leave MySpace? They were already losing steam just competing against facebook’s growth– with another formidible competitor with deep pockets, I can’t see them gaining traction.

The race to build an open social graph should be very interesting…

More details on Techmeme for those of you interested.

  • This is quite an interesting topic, Open social sounds VERY cool. IT would be great to be able to log on centrally to one open source for web 2.0 sites. I will be following this. Thanks for sharing this info…