The Impact of OpenSocial

While I may end up eating my words for weeks to come, whether or not platforms will be ready for launch tomorrow, one thing is for sure: OpenSocial has arrived to counter the Facebook platform. The new APIs being provided by Google will (as Mike Arrington pointed out) enable developers to access profile information, friends information and activities. These are all things currently provided on the Facebook platform. While user portability across networks is not supported by this, each application will have access to data that enables them to be unique to the user.
The “applications” being developed for OpenSocial sound much more like widgets that reside within containers rather than robust applications. Perhaps most web developers will soon be widget developers. The web is suddenly becoming more social and as the web evolves our daily interactions with sites will become more personal. We will be able to view much on the web through the lenses of our friends. In regards to whether or not silos of users will continue to exist, under OpenSocial they will. Individuals can choose to use Friendster, Hi5 or any of their other platform partners or opt to go with Facebook or Myspace who are as of yet, not integrating with Google’s new system.
While this is a step in the right direction, this is not the final solution to cross platform identity portability that many have been calling for. Regardless, Google and the other platforms are definitely concerned about Facebook’s momentum and this is their answer. One thing that hasn’t been answered by this is: will Google develop a SocialAds competitor that enables targeted ads across platforms similar to those expected to be provided by Facebook on their new ad platform? Additionally, given that platforms get to choose how they wish to implement Google’s open social, how will application directories compare to Facebook’s applications directory? Finally, are the Facebook developers going to go running for OpenSocial?
All of these are unanswered questions that will soon be revealed in the coming months!