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Social Networking Platforms: What a Mess

Posted by: Rob Hof on December 12, 2007

OK, maybe it’s a glorious mess—all these platforms that began with Facebook last May eventually will shake out into something really useful. But I can’t imagine that widget developers are real happy right now trying to develop so many versions of their apps. With Bebo joining the social network platform today, Friendster yesterday, LinkedIn on Monday, and Google whenever it gets OpenSocial up and running, that’s no fewer than five significant platforms. No doubt I’ve forgotten a few others. Plus, today Facebook said it would open up its platform, clearly a response to OpenSocial’s promise of a broad-based platform.

There’s clearly an opportunity for someone to make it easier for apps developers to write once and publish anywhere, but I have no idea who that’s going to be yet. (I just now heard about Widgetbox, which offers to do just that. While I think services like this could prove quite valuable, it also feels like one or more of the large social networking services will be the key drivers of standards, and that’s where I don’t see an obvious winner yet.)

Just to show how crazy it is, get a load of this visualization from Dave McClure:


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Reader Comments

Brandon W

December 12, 2007 07:22 PM

Admittedly simplifying things greatly: LinkedIn has created a platform that allows applications to take advantage of the network. The others (as far as I can tell) have created a platform that allows the network to take advantage of applications. Which is better depends on your business model. I, for one, am thrilled with LinkedIn's platform. If it's half what they claim, they just saved my startup a year's worth of work and handed us access to 17 million new customers.

dave mcclure

December 12, 2007 08:31 PM

glad you enjoyed my insanity rob :)

Terry M

June 26, 2008 12:52 PM

I stumbled on Business Weeks whole coverage on social networks just a couple of weeks ago when they published the print version of an update on Blogging, called "Beyond Blogging". While I'm relatively new to actually using social networks to build business, I didn't find it that helpful.

However, I do love YOUR article, and I might add, there are many many new Social networks getting into the act as well as monetizing the whole situation.
(TokSee, for instance).
Check out my blog:

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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