Following Google’s announcement Friday of the release of the Social Graph API, a number of experts have had time to voice their opinion. Tim O’Reilly, an apparent Google evangelist, believes that this new API brings us one step closer to “the Internet Operating System.” Others such as Jeff Jarvis, Dare Obasanjo and myself believe that this is good in theory but not very practical. Some could argue that eventually there will be tools that make it much more automated to define our connections between others on the web via hyperlinks.
Unfortunately (for Google), the majority of internet users will not switch to this new system when they have already become used to defining their connections via social networks by simply clicking “Add Friend.” Perhaps I am being a little short-sighted and developers will rush to build tools that make it easy for general web users to embrace the new Social Graph API. I doubt that is going to happen anytime soon though because currently there are very few incentives for developers to build applications using the Social Graph API.
When the Facebook platform launched, many developers rushed to build applications because of the opportunity it provided. Suddenly developers could build an application an instantaneously and have hundreds of thousands of users check out what they had built. This is in contrast to build a traditional website which requires an immediate advertising budget or continuous content production to obtain any sort of traction.
So for the time being, Facebook has the most accurate representation of the social graph. Until Google can provide significant incentives for developers, the Social Graph API is going to face significant challenges in attempting to gain any traction. It is simply too easy to add a friend on Facebook versus adding a contact via the Social Graph API. Do you think Google can make the new Social Graph work?