Google's OpenSocial Platform

Many of you have probably heard about this new OpenSocial platform that Google has released, which is basically an open form of FaceBook that various other social network platforms (like Orkut, Ning, LinkedIn, Hi5, Friendster,, Oracle, iLike, Flixster, RockYou, and Slide) will conform to.

What's interesting here is that we actually covered this topic in our Social Web course (with some help from Information Rules), discussing why leaders tend to opt for closed platforms (primarily because they can force a lock-in and ensure customers) while a common strategy for those not in the lead to band together under an open platform to try and beat the leader. History may not repeat itself, but it does have themes.

Some of the questions in class included what Google's strategy would be (keep in mind that this was before the OpenSocial announcement), whether it would fit into their long-term goals ("take over the world", as one student said), and whether they could get others to play ball (the answer apparently being "yes"). Another point of discussion was what kind of apps could be built on top if there were a unified "friend" network.

The real surprise, however, is that MySpace is also joining this OpenSocial platform. This suggests to me that MySpace thinks it is far, far behind the apps curve, and is hoping for a small slice of a larger pie. I find this quite surprising, given MySpace's large user base, definitely something I wouldn't have predicted.

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