Yesterday evening, Google announced the launch of their Contact API. This is ultimately part of Google’s plan to “out open” Facebook. This is an amazing first step. You finally get to own your contact data and take it with you anywhere. Users have the ability to add, remove and modify existing contact data. The only step left is for Google to enable you to describe each of your relationships in a categorical manner similar to the new custom friend grouping feature (friends lists) on Facebook.
This will enable users to select default privacy settings for each group when they register for a new site. The only question now is if other sites will decide to use Google’s Contact API. Additionally, we will need to see sites like Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail open up their contact data to enable you to bring it with you elsewhere on the net. This is a massive step in the right direction and I can only hope that others follow Google’s lead.
2008 is shaping up to be a transformational year for the “social graph.” I only hope that we continue to see other leading companies follow the trend of opening up user access to their own personal data. If Google enables users to create contact lists similar to Facebook’s friend lists, Google’s attempt at “out opening” Facebook may just be a successful one.