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Google Drops The Bomb: MySpace Joins The Fight

Google formally announced its OpenSocial social network application platform today, and there was a bombshell announcement that they held back till the end: MySpace is in! MySpace, the most popular social network, bigger than even Facebook, is a partner in OpenSocial and will support OpenSocial applications.

Also announced as joining: SixApart, owners of Movable Type, TypePad, LiveJournal, and Vox; plus Bebo, joining previously announced partners Orkut, Oracle, Ning, XING, Tianji, Viadeo, Salesforce.com, Plaxo, hi5, imeem, Hyves, Friendster, Engage.com and LinkedIn. Many complained when word leaked out yesterday that Google’s partners, aggregated, barely register in the U.S. compared to Facebook, but the totality of this group has to have twice the market share of Facebook, with MySpace beating it all by itself.

OpenSocial just went from being an opening shot to a sure-fire game changer. With MySpace supporting it, it’s important; with everyone but Facebook supporting it, it becomes the de facto new platform. Basically, there are now two platforms, Facebook and OpenSocial, and unless OpenSocial fails due to poor infrastructure or implementation, both will be major market forces.

Facebook was offered a place in this group, but it declined, and with “big evil” Rupert Murdoch even joining the movement, they now look like the entrenched anti-user corporate entity, a big blow. OpenSocial won’t kill Facebook, it may not even convince Facebook users to leave, but it does kill Facebook’s network effect. There is no longer a pressing need to switch to Facebook because all the applications are there, the lock-in is pretty much over.

In the long run, this isn’t the Facebook killer, not even close. Facebook will thrive because Facebook users don’t want to switch; they like Facebook. However, Facebook wants to have a thriving developer community, and to get it, there’s still a good chance they’ll join Open Social, or try to compete with it. If Facebook joins, it’ll make switching around easier for users, and if it doesn’t, we’ll have a two-player war here, and those are always exciting to watch.

On one side, we’ve got Facebook and Microsoft, on the other, Google, Fox, and a lot of little guys. Of course, most of the important little guys (the developers, not the networks) already work on Facebook’s side, making them the most important players. The two sides are going to fight over developers, and Microsoft is very good at courting developers. If they can get some integration between Facebook’s Markup Language and Windows Live Spaces, the world’s most popular blogging service, perhaps via Microsoft Gadgets (which also run on Windows Vista), we’ve got a powerful closed solution on Facebook’s side.

The most important thing to remember is that we have no idea what Google supposedly gains from this. Yes, there’s a chance that Google just became the operating system of the internet, but there’s nothing in this so far about monetization. Google can’t sell the platform, and with MySpace in Orkut doesn’t look so important anymore. The programming languages are too standard for Google to sell developer tools.

We don’t know yet what Google stands to gain, except for being important and making no money at it. The only real gain: Google diminishes Facebook’s influence, and thus avoids Facebook becoming a major competitor, if this play succeeds. Things just got so interesting, nobody knows where it’s all going to end up.

Coverage: Mashable, TechCrunch

November 1st, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Orkut, Services, General | 6 comments



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6 Comments »

  1. Excellent points. I think if they’re not to arrogant, that Facebook will eventually join OpenSocial. But you’re right, Google is the Internet Platform: http://fishtrain.com/2007/11/01/opensocial-social-unification/

    Comment by Jesse | November 1, 2007

  2. You Gaggle guys are doomed! We are art of Facebook now, they have our cash, our clout, our cloud, our software, marketing, cool, ….. WE WILL BURY YOU!
    Where’s a chair when you need one?

    http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com

    Comment by Steve Ballmer | November 1, 2007

  3. How much did Google pay?

    Comment by pig in a poke | November 2, 2007

  4. Pig: Technically, this is part of the deal Google made to get its advertising on MySpace a year ago, so the only money changing hands is the shared ad revenue.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | November 2, 2007

  5. There’s a lot of geek speak on the Open Social announcement. If you need to explain it to executives, I’ve tried to make it very clear and concise from this post, weighing the pros and cons.

    http://tinyurl.com/3dtqs6

    Love to hear any feedback, even if you don’t agree.

    Comment by Jeremiah Owyang | November 2, 2007

  6. Nathan, is your answer limited to some “technological” field? I was asking more in general. Oh, and IMHO declaring a “pig in a poke” to be a “de facto technical standard” is somewhat premature — but maybe I’m simply not a “technical expert”?

    I watched the Goo-Vid on TechCrunch and also found Mr. Serfaty’s remark that the open social might be a good resource for finding a lawyer in Moscow for a marger/acquisition in Russia — very amusing, indeed….

    ;D nmw (=”pig in a poke” ;)

    Comment by nmw | November 2, 2007

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