As the Facebook Platform nears its one year anniversary – making it the “elder” amongst social networking platforms – the OpenSocial initiative continues to move forward. While the OpenSocial spec is still in version 0.7 and key containers like MySpace are rolling out full OpenSocial support very slowly, OpenSocial has come a long way since it was announced six months ago.
I sat down with Google’s Patrick Chanezon, OpenSocial Evangelist to social networks, developers, and advertisers, to get his perspective on the state of OpenSocial six months in.
Patrick, what new trends stand out to you at this juncture for OpenSocial?
We’re still very early. Now that OpenSocial is reaching 200 million users, we’re starting to see a lot more people ask how they can be involved.
We’ve seen a lot of big social networks adopt the OpenSocial standard. Now, we’re starting to see some enterprises experiment with OpenSocial internally. For example, SocialSite by Sun is helping any site become a container out of the box.
We’re also seeing the beginning of some new things on professional networks (as opposed to “social” networks). For example, when the LinkedIn sandbox opens soon, I think we’ll see different types of applications – more productivity oriented – with different types of business models – perhaps subscription models.
What business models do you think are working well for developers on the big social network containers?
There’s great opportunity to work with the brand advertisers. They’re ready to start experimenting with application campaigns. There’s definitely market opportunity now.
However, there hasn’t been as much done in the way of e-commerce yet. Buy.com’s Garage Sale application is one example, but most commerce apps are just doing referrals. I’m curious to see what eBay is going to do in this space.
In the bigger picture, how do you think social platforms are changing the web right now?
The standardization and acceptance of APIs is really accelerating the distribution of the web. Currently, most social web sites contain content that is generated 70% internally and 30% externally. I expect this trend to reverse over the next 5 years.
We may see new developments if certain applications are able to socialize a majority of one type of vertical content across multiple social networking platforms (like music, movies, etc), becoming meta-networks themselves. In that case, they will probably create their own APIs for developers to use. Vertical-specific OpenSocial APIs could be necessary at that point.
Finally Patrick, how would you characterize Google’s interest in the Friend Connect “dispute” with Facebook lately?
We are actively talking with Facebook about different ways to make Friend Connect work with the Facebook Platform.
Ultimately, we’re genuinely interested in making the open web grow faster, because Google is good at monetizing the web. We want to make building on the web as easy as possible, and we’ve been doing open source projects for a long time to support that. For AJAX development, we created the Google Web Toolkit. For offline development, we created Google Gears. Anyone can use these. Now, for social applications, we’ve created OpenSocial. The web is becoming increasingly social, and we want to make it easier to build and grow the social web.