If you've been paying attention to Google news in the past week, you're probably aware of two things. One, the company's stock hit $700 Wednesday. The second is that Google announced an initiative it had spearheaded called "OpenSocial," a set of common APIs for building social applications across the web. The social networks involved in OpenSocial include Google's Orkut social network, which is popular in India and Brazil; LinkedIn; Ning; Six Apart; and Salesforce.com. And now, MySpace.
Why might all of these seemingly fierce rivals unite? For one, they have an 800-pound competitor in Facebook, which, although smaller than MySpace, has captured much of the world's attention for a decision made slightly less than six months ago.
Facebook in May opened up its platform to developers, allowing them to create applications on top of it and monetize those applications through means such as advertising an e-commerce. The move proved wildly popular, and to date thousands of applications have been created for Facebook by outside developers.
"This is about helping the start-up spend more time building a great product rather than rebuilding it for every social network," said Chris DeWolfe, MySpace CEO, in a statement.
So what does it mean for advertisers? Any marketer who has her own applications or widgets will be able to easily build them not just for Facebook but for a huge swath of the web's social traffic. It also has potential to vastly increase the distribution of such widgets and applications, which area already proving to be media vehicles in their own right.
Marc Andreessen, Ning co-founder and Netscape icon, shares similar views on his blog: "Today's Facebook app developers just got very good news -- they will be able to take all of the work they did to build their Facebook apps and create Open Social versions of their apps very easily... and by so doing, get access to a huge new pool of users -- as many as 100 million users just via the initial Open Social partners, more than twice as many users as Facebook has today."