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New apps already coming for Google's new OpenSocial

Google, MySpace APIs can be used to develop software that reaches 200 million users

By Heather Havenstein
November 2, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - A day after MySpace and Google sent shockwaves through the Web 2.0 world - and a shot across the bow of current social networking darling Facebook - third-party developers have already started announcing plans to build applications using their jointly developed social network APIs.
 
MySpace and Google announced Thursday that they had joined forces 
to create a set of APIs that can be used to by third parties to create social applications on a variety of sites.

Plaxo, for example, Friday unveiled new dynamic profiles that support Google's new OpenSocial APIs. Users of Plaxo's Pulse social network can now create distinct professional and personal profiles that include photos, contact information and privacy settings. Any applications written to the Google OpenSocial APIs can be embedded in the profiles, Plaxo said.

The impetus behind OpenSocial, Google said, was to allow developers to learn one API and then be able to write a social application for any OpenSocial partner site. "And because it's built on Web standards like HTML and JavaScript, developers don't have to learn a custom programming languages," noted Amar Gandhi and Peter Chane, group product managers at Google in a blog post.

Google estimates that more than 200 million users of the Web sites that have committed to OpenSocial, like MySpace, Friendster and LinkedIn, will have access to these applications.

"Perhaps most interestingly, we will see social capabilities move into new contexts," the two noted in the blog. "OpenSocial will also work in nontraditional social contexts, such as on Salesforce.com and Oracle. With a common set of APIs, it will be even easier to extend social functionality. Beyond the many fun and entertaining social applications we already have seen, we think we'll see a number of social applications emerge in business contexts."

Marc Andreessen, who co-founded Netscape (later acquired by AOL in 1998) blogged that OpenSocial dispels the common assumption held by some that Facebook has established unquestionable dominance in the social networking world. He noted that while many people assumed in the mid-1990s that AOL owned the Web because it had amassed tends of millions of users, it lost its dominance when broadband became widely available and people no longer needed a dial-up ISP.

"I am not predicting the death of Facebook," Andreesen blogged. "I think the Facebook people are brilliant and are going to do very well over the next several years. But the idea that you hear from time to time that 'all the users are on Facebook' and 'the game is over; the Facebook platform has won' is silly, as you can see every time you use a web site that doesn't end in aol.com."

Andreessen, of course, founded Ning,  a company that allows users to build their own social networks and is an OpenSocial partner. Ning plans to make OpenSocial applications available to all of its 113,000 social networks later this year or early next spring, the company said. OpenSocial applications will run inside social networks across Ning, the company said.

"All of the partners finalizing and releasing all of the initial OpenSocial container and application implementations, of course," Andreessen noted in his blog.  Everyone can just smell the opportunity, and people are going to drive to ship as quickly as possible."

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