OpenSocial: Google’s Answer to Facebook

If you can’t beat them, join them.

That’s what we usually hear from people. But Google took the opposite direction. Since it couldn’t get the immensely popular Facebook within its fold, Google decided to join forces with several partners to try to put a halt to Facebook’s dominance and gain some chunk of the social networking market.

OpenSocial: Google’s Answer to Facebook

After I joined Facebook, I have to admit Friendster looked boring. If not because of close friends I keep in contact with (and who refuse to sign up with Facebook), I would have left my Friendster account weeks ago.

While Google already has its social network site Orkut, it’s the applications that’s built by third party developers that’s more appealing and that’s the reason why Google has embarked into such partnerships. Marred with legal troubles, Orkut didn’t prosper as much as other social networking sites.

Developers currently have to customise their designs for a particular site with many partnering with the hugely popular Facebook.

Google’s OpenSocial system will allow a wider distribution for tools like Facebook’s music recommendation service iLike and its Top Friends application.

It has long been reported that Google has big ambitions in social networking.

Last week it missed out on the chance to buy a stake in Facebook with the founders choosing instead to do a deal with Microsoft.

“Facebook-fear”

Google said that around a dozen social network partners had signed up to the system, including business site LinkedIn, Friendster and Google’s own social network Orkut.

Developers already onboard include Flixster, iLike and RockYou.

Unlike Facebook, OpenSocial allows developers to write in normal javascript and html with only minor adjustments needed for the code to work on its platform.

According to blog TechCrunch the plan is likely to be a big hit with developers as well as Facebook’s rivals.

“Developers have been complaining non stop about the costs of learning yet another markup language for every new social network platform, and taking developer time in creating and maintaining the code,” wrote TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington.

He is impressed by the number of social networks that have signed up so far.

“Facebook-fear has clearly driven good partners to side with Google,” he wrote.

Technology writer Om Malik observed: “OpenSocial attacks Facebook where it is the weakest (and the strongest): its quintessential closed nature.”