Is OpenSocial Social at All?

OpenSocial Logo There was a lot of hype surrounding the launch of OpenSocial. Mike Arrington reported about a “select group of fifteen or so industry luminaries [who] attended a highly confidential meeting at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View to discuss the company’s upcoming plans to address the ‘Facebook issue.'” As the post unfolded it began to sound like a Hollywood movie, or at the least a television drama series. Google is planning to take on Facebook!

At the time that post was as attention grabbing as “Facebook gets shut down!” given the hype surrounding Facebook. Since then we have learned that OpenSocial may not really be that social after all. Not only is it not social but four months after it was announced it still isn’t ready for primetime. The social features of OpenSocial rely heavily on the support of the social networks that support the standard. As Marc Canter writes, “many–if not all–of the OpenSocial participants did not intend to open up their networks at all.” So then what is the point of OpenSocial?

OpenSocial is simply the expansion of the Google Gadget standard across platforms and was announced in such a way that social networks are beginning to support the standard. This is not to suggest that Google secretly wanted to simply expand Google Gadgets though. I’m sure they believed they could attempt to take on the Facebook platform. Until I see OpenSocial successfully implemented within a social network and embracing the social and profile components of a site (friends, gender, age, etc), I’m going to remain as skeptical as Marc Canter who states that in reality, OpenSocial appears to be “OpenGadgets.”

I think the only hope left for truly open and portable social networks is the DataPortability workgroup. Even that could soon end in failure. Do you think OpenSocial has a chance of succeeding? Is it going to be more then a Google gadget standard?