First Hi5 Platform apps launch, using OpenSocial (not Facebook) standards

hi5.pngBack in October, Hi5 became one of the first social networks after Facebook to announce platform plans. While initially the company planned to use its own set of APIs, in November Hi5 announced it would adopt the OpenSocial standard. Last week, Hi5 announced support for the first OpenSocial applications for the Hi5 Platform from social music services iLike and Qloud.

Last week I sat down with Ramu Yalamanchi, CEO of Hi5, and Anil Dharni, Hi5’s Director of Products, to talk about Hi5’s platform plans.

ilike_profile_spanish.gifIF: This week, Hi5 announced that the first Hi5 Platform apps have been launched – iLike and Qloud – using the OpenSocial standard.  Why did you decide to go that route, and what is your platform approach in general?

Ramu: Initially, we had plans to build our own platform. When Google came to us to talk about OpenSocial, we thought it was interesting because it would allow us to accelerate what we are trying to do. So we became an OpenSocial launch partner. Of course, there are some Hi5-specific platform features that we’ll be rolling out on top of OpenSocial.

IF: Are you planning on supporting Facebook’s platform APIs as well?

Anil: We want to support the platforms that support open standards.  We haven’t made an absolute decision about supporting the Facebook Platform, but ideally we would like to see a common set of APIs across platforms.

IF: Why did you decide to launch with music apps from iLike and Qloud?

ramu.jpgRamu: Music is something that our users request frequently but that we thought would best be done by partners.

Anil: We looked at application developers that we felt were providing a unique, compelling experience. Speed to market was also important to us (OpenSocial provided us with the glue for that to happen as quickly as possible). We wanted to learn how quickly application developers can move onto OpenSocial, and how it would all work for us. We did everything quickly, within 3 weeks – it’s a testament to their developers, our developers, and the simplicity of OpenSocial.

IF: What do developers need to know about Hi5 in order to build successful applications?

Ramu: Well, we’ve had a pretty high influx of developers asking to get into our beta program.  We look at a number of things – a compelling user experience, speed to market, scale. We really want to provide our users with compelling applications.

anil.jpgAnil: Right now, we’re still in beta since OpenSocial is still in beta.  In the future, we’re going to launch a self-service model. Also, we’re very strong internationally.  We have a very unique audience, and we are looking for applications that will bring a localized experience.

IF: How important is it for developers to localize apps to the specific markets where Hi5 has a significant presence?

Ramu: For some apps, there will be cultural subtleties (for example, localizing avatars).  That will provide some unqiue opportunities.  For example, we’re the #2 site in Thailand.  It’s not impossible to learn the cultural nuances of that part of the world, but it is a unique opportunity for those that are culturally aware.

IF: Both iLike and Qloud are launching Spanish language versions of your apps. What portion of your users are Spanish speaking?

Ramu: 25% of our users speak Spanish (we’re the top social network in Mexico, and top among Spanish speaking countries overall), while 50% of our users are English speaking. Both iLike and Qloud will be launching Spanish versions of their apps soon, and both have chosen a subset of songs in Spanish and Portuguese to feature within their apps.

To learn more, check out the Hi5 Developer Center.