Last night Mike Arrington broke the news that Google is supposedly launching the OpenSocial tomorrow. Soon after I posted a response questioning the validity of this. Throughout the day I have been pinging people involved with Google’s new platform and everybody came back with the same response: “this is definitely news to me.” According to a number of sources Google will simply be announcing a new standard that enables developers to interact directly with the partnering social platforms.
In the coming months, Google is hoping that social platforms will announce that they use the “OpenSocial Standard,” designed and developed by Google. This standard is simply a public extension of the Orkut platform API and is similar to the iGoogle API. It sounds like Google just played a successful game of chicken in which they were able to convince a number of companies to sign something saying that they are non-exclusive “partners,” and will commit to supporting the OpenSocial standard.
In a sort of abstract way, the new standard is similar to the failed XFN standard. Given Google’s leverage in the industry, they were able to convince a number of less significant partners to join them in pursuit of Facebook. The funny thing here is that Google was unable to convince the two biggest players: Facebook and MySpace to join in the party. One unnamed source that I spoke with compared this to George Bush’s alliance in Iraq which was called the “coalition of the willing.” That alliance included the powerful armies of Nicaragua, Tonga, Hungary, Portugal and a number of other countries.
While this new platform should not be discounted as meaningless, the partnering platforms are not ready to launch yet. Hi5 and a couple other partners will be demoing the service at tomorrow’s announcement but none of the platforms are officially ready for launch. Rumor has it that the Orkut platform won’t be ready for launch until December 1st. However this pans out, one thing is certain: the Google P.R. machine may just be the most effective P.R. machine in the industry.