Posted by: Rob Hof on November 1, 2007
Now, it’s getting interesting: News Corp.’s MySpace is joining Google’s just-announced OpenSocial program. That’s Google’s shot at one-upping Facebook in the race to get outside software developers to create programs for social networks. The program allows developers of social applications, such as Slide, RockYou, and Flixster—which in turn have helped make Facebook the hot company of the year—to write programs once and have them run largely unchanged on any social site that signs on to OpenSocial.
While it’s not entirely surprising, given Google’s ad deal with MySpace, the deal is a huge win for Google’s plan to stake out a place on the social Web. “OpenSocial is going to become the defacto standard for developers instantly out of the gate,” MySpace cofounder Chris DeWolfe declared at a hastily arranged press conference at Google today. MySpace has 70 million activen users worldwide, still more than Facebook’s 51 million.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt says the two companies have been working together on this front for more than a year. Most recently, Schmidt met with Peter Chernin, president and chief operating officer of News Corp., to seal the deal. “The Web has moved to its next stage,” Schmidt says—the social Web.
And MySpace isn’t the only new member. The popular international social network Bebo has also joined, along with Friendster, hi5, LinkedIn, Ning, Xing, Engage.com, Hyves (no, I don’t know who they are either), Imeem, Plaxo, Viadeo, Tianji (ditto), and software developers Oracle, Salesforce.com, and SixApart, as well as “many, many” social apps developers. “We are talking to everyone,” says Vic Gundotra, a Google VP of engineering.
Facebook too? He wouldn’t name Facebook but said Google is talking to everyone, clearly implying that Google has approached it. Added Schmidt: “Everyone can join. There’s no intent to discriminate or exclude.”
For now, at least, the battle lines have been drawn: Google, MySpace and the rest of the social networking pack vs. Microsoft and Facebook. (Where’s Yahoo!? Who knows?)
On the other hand, it’s not clear those lines will stay drawn that sharply for long. Google said it’s not planning to maintain firm control over the OpenSocial application programming interfaces, details of which will be made public tonight. Gundotra says outright: “We plan to open-source everything in a matter of weeks. It’s going to happen as fast as we can.”