hi5 Fully Launches OpenSocial Version 0.8

-hi5 LogoToday hi5 announced the release of the OpenSocial 0.8 standard which has been in beta for the past few weeks. According to the release, over 1,800 applications have been installed on the platform to date. The most significant change here? The launch of a RESTful API which enables developers to choose their development language rather than being forced into Javascript. This is a huge upgrade for the OpenSocial standard.

Is this a big announcement for OpenSocial? Not necessarily in terms of the standard’s reach but it definitely does imply substantial upgrades from a development perspective. As OpenSocial improves, the standard continues to face challenges in terms of adoption by developers. While the applications on MySpace, hi5 and other platforms appear to be growing rapidly, Facebook continues to dwarf the competition.

While that may not be the case indefinitely, it appears that developers have been pushed to their limits. Take the MySpace Data Availability initiative for instance. It is essentially a copycat of Facebook Connect but was first to launch and while it may be confusing, is supposedly completely functional. So far there has been no word of any large applications that have been launched with the service.

It’s not completely clear why this is the case but it appears that there is much more anticipation surrounding Facebook Connect. The announcement of this new version of OpenSocial may perhaps attract the same sort of response: a congratulatory pat on the back without comparable developer adoption. I could easily be wrong though.

Ali Partovi of iLike for instance has an enthusiastic comment in the press release, “I’m delighted that hi5 is the first Open Social container to release the 0.8 upgrade.” One can only be so excited about a new version of OpenSocial being released though. I think we’re all still waiting on version 1.0 to arrive. Hopefully my negative tone is not taken whole-heartedly.

I believe that this is a significant step for OpenSocial and for hi5. It will be interesting to see how the battle between OpenSocial and the Facebook platform plays out over the coming months.