Google Makes a Hard Push With Friend Connect

Tonight I’ve been seeing a lot of buzz about Friend Connect, Google’s open initiative to take of Facebook Connect. The service lets you login using your Google, Orkut, or Plaxo account. Both MySpace and Facebook decided to opt-out of integrating into the service but bloggers are embracing it at a rapid pace. Last night Google sent out a large number of invitations to bloggers to install their service.

The result is now a large number of blogs with Friend Connect directly integrated with their service. Surprisingly absent from all those sites? Facebook. Take a look at Twitter and you’ll see a surge in chatter about Friend Connect over the past few hours. I’ve had a few friends mention their new integration with Friend Connect. Facebook appears to still be rolling out the service on a one-at-a-time basis.

The chart pictured below also highlights how this week is shaping up to be the start of the race for controlling our web identities. While Facebook started the push with a big New York Times article, Google has apparently opted for the “grassroots” model and is dishing out Friend Connect code to countless bloggers. The result appears to be a gradual increase and our guess is an increase in usage as well.

Unfortunately we can’t monitor what the results are in terms of how many users have tested each service, but for companies, leveraging Facebook Connect makes a lot more sense due to the newsfeed. Now all that needs to be developed is a quick way for bloggers around the web to install Facebook’s service. I would guess that we’ll see the release of the previously leaked Facebook Connect WordPress plugin.

For now, Google and Facebook have started battling head to head. This will surely be an exciting race to watch. Which service would you prefer to install on your site? Will you use one over the other, both, or neither?