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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 justdrew ( 706141 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:01PM (#21700540)
    consolidation and settling in haven't started yet, google has plenty of time, if they come out with good stuff, it'll peel people away from the others no problem. Also, there's still a lot of people who haven't wadded in to the whole thing yet...
  • by El Cabri ( 13930 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:02PM (#21700576) Journal
    Google is a great company filled with brilliant people like maybe no company has ever been. But there's something I never understood about it : how do they actually plan to lock in their position ?

    They do many things very well, but I don't see any of their major services from which you cannot switch to a competitor on a whim. Let's be honest : for 99% of searches, several other search engines will give you results that are at least as relevant or useful as Google's. Even if objectively you would find any google service to be slightly superior than its counterpart, there really is barely any friction from switching if you don't like their name anymore or if you feel like giving a chance to a competitor. They don't even have any notable "network effect" assets like eBay, Paypal, Facebook, Amazon Marketplace and recommendations, the IMDB, etc.
  • by Ohio Calvinist ( 895750 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:31PM (#21700968)
    In the beginning Google was attractive to me, (and most people I know), because it was "clean." No annoying graphics, just a simple text box, that produced very readable, very good results, with advertising that was textual, and not a eppilepsy enducing "you won a playstation" flashing banner.

    Their search products such as Image Search, Froogle, News, etc... all did the same thing... clean UI, easy to use, good results.

    For their applications, I think people moved to Gmail because again, the clean UI, they already used Google, and the space was unprecidented. Most ISPs still had 30MB caps, as did most other freemail services. For their other applications, I think it is a combination of brand recognition (like my Aunt, who thinks Yahoo "is" the Internet), Google fanboi-ism, and the assumption that everything they do will turn into gold, and they they won't fold overnight like a lot of services have the potential to do.

    With all this stream, its enough to drive advertisement revenue. The difficulty will be if that dries up, and they have pissed off investors, thousands of employees with their hands in all kinds of stuff, trying to find a way to support the massive infrastructure. I think that is why they are looking to diversify their income paths because they know they won't be the hip kid on the block forever.
  • by slashdot_commentator ( 444053 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @05:33PM (#21702656) Journal

    In addition to sloppy's excellent points,

    1) Google counts on the same psychological effect that the entire advertising industry counts on to keep people consuming its product: branding. The average human beings' tendency is to stick with what is familiar. They were able to provide a search engine service (at the time) markedly superior to what was available (Yahoo, Altavista, & Hotbot), so now people go to them for searches, rather than some place else. Its the same with McDonald's, Charmin, and Starbucks. They count on human nature for "lock-in". If they get complacent, like GM, Hoover, or Wang, someone new will come along, that will offer something better, and new guy will become the next Google.

    2) While I think Google have magnitudes of technological opportunity to improve its search product, the company, in its own way, is looking to "win". Google doesn't need to plow tons of resources and attention into its search/advertising engine (to stay alive). They prioritize looking for the next undiscovered thing that will knock them a industry home run.

    Take the SEO biz. There are guys that will (relatively) openly talk about what they do, or how they approach ways to increase their link count. Besides it making money for them (in page hits), they don't try to be proprietary with their techniques, because they know "winning" means coming up with some new way of getting ahead. They believe in their talent (to think of new ways of getting ahead). Its like A-Rod giving away batting tips. He can afford to do so, because it doesn't matter that competitors have the information; its still not going to help them outperform A-Rod. (In the case of SEO guys, it helps them to reveal stuff; it increases their page traffic.)

    That's what makes Google so scary to companies like Microsoft. Neither of them even care about maintaining their dominance in their niches, they're looking for the next great thing that will make them billions. And Google has an advantage in talent, and can leave Microsoft in the rear view.

    Being the ubermonopoly, having the marketing highground, means you can ensure your continued prosperity, even with egregious gaffes. Being ahead means being to dictate the rules to the game. If you're in the rear view, you're reduced to reacting. Any chess player should understand this concept.

    3) In the case of opensocial, as sloppy pointed out, its a means of improving its search and advertising product. So Google invested into it. If Google get to define the popularly accepted API, they can control how the next technology gets implemented (and monetized). Google thinks it can put out a superior product to what is currently available, so it is now making the attempt. If they're right, then developers and users will go to it, because it offers them something Google's competitors don't.

    I hope you can see now that "lock-in" is an outdated concept in the technology business world. The game is about creating/defining the next moneymaker.

  • Re:social web sites (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Friday December 14, 2007 @07:48PM (#21704076) Homepage Journal

    The first is to promote your band, business or service.
    Some people will say "I use it to keep in touch with people"

    The third use is to keep in touch with bands; the flipside of the first use. You gotta be there, to get promoted to. MySpace is a pretty good way to stay on top of when/where your favorite local bands are playing.

    Of course, once you start doing that, you also get to satisfy your ego and validate your existence with attention whoring. ;-)

    There's not much hassle with maintaining/monitoring, though. MySpace has atrocious usability, but people tend to learn to adapt to even the worst interfaces. (Ever watch someone copy a file on MS Windows with cut/paste?)

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