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Google Businesses Programming Social Networks The Internet IT Technology

Google's OpenSocial Too Late To Be a Win? 82

DeeQ writes with a link to a post on's social networking blog. Author Caroline McCarthy wonders if Google's OpenSocial initiative has missed its moment in the sun. It's been something like six weeks now since the search giant offered up its open-source social media initiative ... but where have been the usual swift victories? Moreover, OpenSocial isn't done yet, and it's not expected until sometime next year. In the meantime Facebook is capitalizing on Google's delay, and other networks are stepping in as well. "Kraus adds that some of the independent platform strategies would be necessary even if OpenSocial were finalized. One of them is LinkedIn's 'InApps,' which also aims to spread LinkedIn's data and influence outside the business-oriented social network through partnerships with other Web sites. 'OpenSocial so far is really about how developers embed their application into a social network,' Kraus explained. 'A good chunk of LinkedIn's APIs is about how LinkedIn extends their social-networking data into other sites.'"
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Google's OpenSocial Too Late To Be a Win?

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  • by Cleon ( 471197 ) <cleon42@[ ] ['yah' in gap]> on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:00PM (#21700536) Homepage
    The thing is, all of these social networking sites have a certain focus and niche.

    Facebook, which started out as something for college students, is still generally focused on that particular market. Moreover, unlike MySpace, it's rather strictly controlled; you can really only search for friends in your particular networks. Plus, the inclusion (and encouragement) of user-created applications gives FaceBook a level of functionality that other networking sites lack.

    LinkedIn is specifically targeted for professional, rather than social, networking.

    MySpace seems to be aiming itself more at media integration, organization/campaign building, musicians, that sort of thing. (IOW, more "commercial" than the other two, if that makes any sense.)

    For it to work, OpenSocial has to find its focus--it needs something to separate it from the other social networking sites beyond merely being a Google project. If it doesn't, it's just going to go the way of Friendster--it'll be out there, but nobody will really be using it.

  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:02PM (#21700572)
    There are two uses for typical social networks. The first is to promote your band, business or service. The other is to satisfy your ego and validate your existence by constant attention-whoring. Some people will say "I use it to keep in touch with people", but that's bullshit, because it's an idiotic substitute for the telephone, email or instant messaging. So claiming that all the hassle of getting, maintaining and monitoring a social network account just to keep in touch with a few people is like saying you only get Hustler and Club for the articles.
  • Not too late (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PolarBearFire ( 1176791 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:02PM (#21700574)
    Nothings too late in this era. We don't even have a clear current winner. Depending on demographics, some sites are stronger than others. Also as we can see with Facebook, any public screwups can quickly change things. If Facebook hadn't reacted as fast and strongly to allay people fears regarding privacy alot of legitimate users would have migrated elsewhere. I've signed up on Myspace and Facebook but since I've a bad habit of not providing personal information to strangers these services don't really appeal to me. But from what I saw there's really nothing one has that the other couldn't implement.
  • Re:Not too late (Score:4, Insightful)

    by El Cabri ( 13930 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:04PM (#21700606) Journal
    There's not going to be a clear winner : several social networking websites will co-exist, because the value of a network depends both of who's in it and who's not.
  • by kingduct ( 144865 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:09PM (#21700682)

    As someone who has used facebook a bit, I can say it sucks! There are tons of opportunties to make something better (or worse, depending on your point of view), and Google is one company trying to do so.

    Was Google too late when it started its search engine years after the first engines? Was gmail too late because Rocketmail was first? Was wikipedia too late, because Brittanica was already there? For that matter, was Facebook too late, because email had already existed for decades?

    If a tool comes up that is a lot better, it has the chance to succeed. Since Facebook is so crappy, we should expect that in the short term (next year) either it will get a lot better or there will probably be something that takes its place in the sun. I have no opinion as to whether that will be opensocial or something else (let us not forget that the thing that gets everyone's attention next year may very well be an economic depression that puts the dotcom bust to shame).
  • by PolarBearFire ( 1176791 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:14PM (#21700752)
    That's a main reason why I hesitate to invest in Google stock. I see a lot of potential but then I also see a lot of alternatives to what Google offers. Strictly judging Google as a business I cannot predict the course they are going to take. They are full of brilliant people and should be churning out alot of great stuff, but if you think about it a lot of the succesful stuff they have have been bought not made inhouse.
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:17PM (#21700782)
    Yeah, what's the point of even being in business if you have to compete fairly instead of locking people in?

    I'd argue that most products and services are not natural monopolies; otherwise, capitalism would not work and no country would use it. Microsoft's position is great if you happen to be Bill Gates, but it's a drag on everybody else in every other industry (why do people outside slashdot fail to recognize that?)

    Google better thank their lucky stars there's no search lock-in, because otherwise google could never have displaced altavista, yahoo, microsoft, and everybody else who came along before google. At the same time, google better stay on its toes.

  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:20PM (#21700812) Journal
    Google is a great company filled with brilliant people like maybe no company has ever been.

    I don't believe that for a second (Bell Labs, for example? Toyota, Lockheed, Merck, IBM, Philips, Sony, Xerox...?) but wouldn't it be sad if it were true? They should come over here and develop new drugs; I'll be glad to cover making Web 2.0 apps that never get out of beta.

  • Bias? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lixee ( 863589 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:24PM (#21700864) is Murdoch-domain if I'm not mistaken. Can someone remind me of who owns MySpace?
  • by laudunum ( 585188 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:51PM (#21701256)
    It seems to me that Google is right on time: the time in the sun for social networks seems to be about up. Call it a land rush; call it a bubble; call it a craze. The social networks like FaceBook, MySpace, and the social network apps like Digg enjoyed a moment in the sun as the fleshed out one dimension of the webbernet that hadn't really been fully articulated. Now that it has, you're seeing a lot of the ideas articulated by those sites rolled into more mature, more complex, and more interesting sites and services. Of course, community for the sake of community was something I always thought was best done face to face, sitting next to someone on a barstool or at a coffee shop. Me, if I am going to look for community on the web, which is really more like what we used to call "association" (that is, a gathering of like-minded individuals), I'm going to look for sites that possess the traits I'm interested in. Like SlashDot or ArsTechnica et cetera.
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Friday December 14, 2007 @04:01PM (#21701416) Journal

    Welcome to The Latest Fad (c)(tm) on the Internet.
    I think this may inadvertently be the most insightful comment on this issue.

    One thing we know for sure is that the people who use the social networks are not the kind of people who are afraid to change. No matter how successful Facebook has become by the time Google gets its act together, if Google comes up with some social networking tool that is really well-designed, fun and cool, and it isn't too obnoxious in the way it uses advertising and corporate boosterism, people will flock to it, leaving Facebook in the dust.

    Unfortunately for Facebook (or more precisely - to whoever buys Facebook) the type of people who have made them successful are not the type of people who are going to stay with them out of loyalty if their needs aren't being met.

    Call it a "fad" if you want to, but it's a matter of "Live by the Free Market, die by the Free Market." Ultimately, these outfits' need for continual growth, and growth in the rate of growth, is what's going to kill them the same way it's killing the credit/banking business. They based their very survival on the notion that everything (prices, demand, incomes, home values, etc etc) will just trend upward forever, and they leveraged themselves to an amazing extent based on this very flimsy - nay, illogical - notion. And the ugly result of this orgy of greed has barely begun. People tend to forget what happens to the fattest hogs.
  • by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:13PM (#21703792) Journal
    Your statement makes about as much sense as saying the only reason for having a Slashdot account is to satisfy your ego and validate your existence by constant attention-whoring. Who would go to all the hassle of getting, maintaining and monitoring a Slashdot account for any other reason? Look at you with your +5 by writing a trendy bashing of social networking, if that's not attention whoring?

    Some people will say "I use it to keep in touch with people", but that's bullshit, because it's an idiotic substitute for the telephone, email or instant messaging.

    Okay I'll bite: Why? Email is push rather than pull. Instant message requires everyone you want to address to be online at that moment, and telephone is even worse, being only one-on-one.

    The pull rather than push is important - rather than me deciding who would want to read whatever I want to tell them, people I know can decide for themselves. In fact, it's email which is far more likely to represent ego satisfying, validation and attention whoring, in that you send out messages flooding people's inboxes, assuming they care about your petty life. Same with telephone and IM really.

    It's sad really, I'd have thought that geeks would be willing to accept that some uses of technology may be more appropriate than others (even if it's not for them, it may be for others), rather than giving in to impressions of what's trendy and what isn't (what sort of technical criticism is "attention-whoring"? That's the sort of thing people take the piss out of MySpace for).

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.