This video is from Google’s Thursday night “Campfire” event, introducing OpenSocial, and introducing the OpenSocial partners to each other (since the project was so secret that no one knew who else was in);
Here’s a weird one: Just as Google’s announcing OpenSocial, it lunches an Orkut-only application, an ask-your-friends application similar to a recently added LinkedIn feature and a common Facebook app. You can use it to ask a community question to your friends or the entire Orkut network. The app, available here, isn’t an OpenSocial one, it runs on the Orkut platform, code-named Mobius. Why not make it OpenSocial?
Valleywag’s was running charts on Wednesday, when it seemed like OpenSocial’s biggest partners were Orkut and LinkedIn, showing how Google’s network paled in comparison to the mammoth market share of Facebook. Then, on Friday, they had to run a new chart showing how the full network, including surprise addition MySpace, has more than six times the market share of Facebook in the U.S..
Plaxo is the first (or the first non-Orkut site) to support OpenSocial, giving interested developers a place to have their applications run, even if the OpenSocial standard is at 0.5 and is hardly set in stone. Plaxo users can add OpenSocial gadgets to their profile, gadgets get a full canvas page inside Pulse profiles, complete support for profiles and friend-list APIs, activity stream and activity data can be published by gadgets, and activities can receive comments in Plaxo Pulse.
Bebo, the major U.K. social network, is playing both sides, both joining OpenSocial and developing a tool for Facebook application developers to port their Facebook apps to Bebo. If Bebo becomes truly compatible with both Facebook and OpenSocial, it won’t be giving up its British crown anytime soon.
Meanwhile, Facebook is launching some sort of integrated sales data/advertising network. Basically, online stores will send Facebook purchasing information of Facebook users, and if those users choose to allow it, their purchases will be shown to their friends in their News Feed. Besides the giant privacy concerns, and the need to get commerce sites to play along (with the success of the whole thing depending on it integrating with actual important stores), there’s the Microsoft thing to consider, since MS is supposed to be Facebook’s ad network. Wait till this one gets announced, supposedly Tuesday, and I’ll probably have thoughts on InsideMicrosoft.
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.
Google has decided that when it comes to Facebook, if you can’t beat ‘em, API ‘em. Google’s OpenSocial, which will launch at code.google.com/apis/opensocial tomorrow, will be a set of APIs that developers can use to create applications that work on any participating social network. Google’s goal is to create an open layer that runs atop all social networks, diminishing the power of all the networks in the process.
It’s a smart plan, especially with the “fad” nature of most social networks, giving up on trying to have the most popular social network and instead trying to be the application layer that everyone uses. Google failed to buy Facebook, it’ll never get MySpace, Orkut will never be popular in the U.S., and a year from now, some unpredictable new network could be the new Facebook. Even if Facebook doesn’t use OpenSocial, new startups will use it, ensuring the next Facebook is a Google partner, not a competitor.
OpenSocial is a set of three common APIs, handling profile information, friend/social graph data, and activity data (news feeds). All participating networks have to do is agree to accept the API calls and give back the requested data, and all that does is the hugely important step of opening up the data in the networks to be used by external applications, or by other social networks.
At launch, participating social networks are Google’s own Orkut, plus Ning, Plaxo, Friendster, viadeo, Hi5, LinkedIn and Oracle. Application providers already signed up are Flixster, iLike, RockYou and Slide, already the most popular Facebook developers, making it likely that the most popular third party Facebook features could soon be arriving at its competitors. The presence of Google’s Orkut, hugely popular outside he U.S., will be enough to make OpenSocial important despite lacking Facebook and MySpace.
One thing OpenSocial doesn’t do is let one social network access the data from another network, something Marc Canter has been pushing for lately. While the applications can use profile, friend and activity data, it can’t actually grab it and create a profile on a another network, like taking your LinkedIn data and using it to build a Friendster profile. You’ll still need to sign up with and create a profile on every network seperately.
Also participating are ING, Hyves, Tianji and Salesforce.com. There will be a developer sandbox at sandbox.orkut.com. No word on if Yahoo plans to participate, and you can expect Microsoft to stay out of it (Windows Live Spaces is a major social network, and Microsoft’s Facebook ownership stake will make it want to stay out of this war).
Search Engine Land points out a post on the Orkut blog that announces a feature rolling out over the next few days. This feature will show you updates from your friends, including pictures and videos they’ve uploaded, changes in status or profile entries, and other things. It’s very much taken from Facebook’s News Feed feature, but that’s not a bad thing.
If you ask me, News Feed is the feature that made Facebook usable, letting you keep track of a large amount of information about everyone without much effort. Without the News Feed, Facebook would be too much work, and the introduction of it no doubt increased growth and utility at Facebook. There’s no reason competitors can’t introduce features invented elsewhere, though the market will gravitate towards those who innovate the most.
According to Wikipedia, Orkut currently has 67 million users, most of them outside the US, especially Brazil. According to comScore, Orkut currently has more pageviews than Facebook, 38.2 billion to 30.4 billion, but Facebook’s current growth should take it past Orkut within less than six months.
Here are a few Google Doodle holiday logos that ran recently:
Google China ran this Doodle in recognition of the one-year countdown to the Beijing 2008 Olympics:
Zorgloob points out the the “366″ in the logo originally read “365″, until someone reminded logo designer Dennis Hwang that 2008 is a leap year, and the one-year countdown is 366 days. Zorgloob has a screenshot of the logo that appeared on Google.cn for a mere short period of time.
The two guys who founded YouTube (and earned a butt-load of money selling it to Google) gave an interview to the Associated Press, talking about the Pentagon’s decision to block U.S. Army troops from accessing YouTube, MySpace, and other popular sites over Defense Department networks. They spoke honestly, joking that if the army has a problem with internet bandwidth, it’s their own fault, seeing as they invented the internet.
It’s great to see Chad Hurley and Steve Chen speaking up for our soldiers right to view hamsters eating broccoli, but one wonders how much longer they get to speak for the company. Most founders wait out until they can take all their stock and walk away (usually one or two years), and if that’s the plan, these guys can’t stay the face of YouTube much longer. It’d be nice to see them stick around at Google for the long haul, shepherding YouTube into becoming a mature company, but when has that ever happened?
Now, no one’s going to suggest YouTube has passed MySpace to become the number one trafficked website on the internet (assuming MySpace is even that), but Google’s aquisition can claim one thing: #5 on Alexa’s rankings. It’s quite an honor, to be moving up a questionably accurate, non-respected, easilly spammed service. Also, not how Google’s Orkut is now number 7, giving Google spots 3, 5 and 7, a nice bit of symmetry.
Google should think about linking Orkut to YouTube, maybe just encouraging YouTube users to move over, or giving YouTube users ready-made Orkut accounts. Gotta take advantage of the power of both properties.
(via Smaran Dayal > Digg)
Google has had a rash of missteps in the last few day, leaving a negative feeling going into the new year.
First off: Google accidently deleted the inboxes of some 60 Gmail users, leaving them with none of their stored email (and, surprisingly, Google’s vaunted server architecture didn’t have any backups either). Google says it tried to salvage what it could, but was left with helping users figure out how to restore the data themselves. There’s been a belief that Google keeps multiple copies of everything, so this has to leave a lot of people with a little less trust in keeping their data on Google’s systems. At least when I blow my hard drive, it’s my fault.
Also, Orkut, which was Google’s surprise mini-success story of the year, went down for 22 hours on Friday and Saturday. It won’t tank Orkut, but Orkut used to suffer massive uptime and server problems, and the last thing anyone wants is for Orkut to lose the trust it has gained from its users.
Om Malik says Google has just reached the point that happens with every high-flying startup, the part where market disillusionment catches up with the company, and everything goes downhill from there. Michael Arrington talks of a “tipping point”. The fact is, Google is as high as an internet company can get, and it is hard to go anywhere but down from here. I think the easiest prediction for 2007 is this:
By the end of next year, no one will like Google as much as they do today.
Maybe we’ll hate Google, maybe they just won’t be as loved, and they won’t be the darlings of the net, but there is no way things will ever be as good as they are now. I’m sorry, Google, but it looks like you peaked. Don’t worry, it isn’t all bad from here, but the magic is going to fade, you can be sure of it.
The US government has issued its report derived from all the user search histories it subpoena’d earlier this year. Seth Finkelstein says the findings include: “About 1 percent of the websites in the Google and MSN indexes are sexually explicit. About 6 percent of queries retrieve a sexually explicit website. Nearly 40 percent of the most popular queries retrieve a sexually explicit website.” I’m thinking this proves that adult sites have very successfully targeted the top search queries, and that Google has been unsuccessful in stopping them.
Google OS writes that there are ways to customize the Google Video Flash player, including a “simple” PlayerMode that removes most of the UI while the video is playing. I’m hoping Google releases a method for fully skinning the player in the future.
Nick Douglas left Valleywag. Damn, I’m gonna miss him. He really turned the blogosphere on its ear. Hopefully his new gig, whatever it is, will be as interesting. In the meantime, Gawker bigwig Nick Denton writes the blog, while looking for a new head gossip. Who will it be?
Now, those are only pageviews, and the rank and reach graphs tell a different story, but if Google could monetize well those pageviews, it could be sitting on a service that is trending higher than YouTube, and closing on MySpace. All typical Alexa disclaimers apply, obviously.
Google has (finally) removed the invite barrier to Orkut, letting anyone with a Google account register for the service. Orkut has been an invite-only service since it launched 33 months ago, and never gained much traction outside of Brazil (where 9% of the country has an Orkut account, making up for 63% of the total users), although the service does have an impressive 30,089,043 users. Probably inspired by Facebook’s success with moving away from an exclusive system, Google has opened the service to all, hoping there are a lot of people who might like what they see.
Based on performce already, get used to seeing this:
Bad, bad server. No donut for you.
Orkut has some new features, according to Dreamchaser, including an easy reply method, language restrictions (i.e. - people from languages you don’t understand can’t message/spam you), and moderator for communities.
Darnell Clayton found a new feature in Orkut: GeoTagging. Now, you can see on a Google Map where all your friends are located. If you have an Orkut account, just click this link (when logged it) to see your new friends map. All your buddies appear as little people standing on the map of the world, and clicking on them shows their name, location, and profile photo. Pretty cool. Google should do this for more of its services.
Google has reached an agreement with the Brazilian courts to hand over some Orkut data. The date is supposedly about “racism, pedophilia and homophobia” (2 of which I was not aware were crimes), and Google says it was willing to hand over the data because, unlike the U.S. Justice Department’s request, it was specific.
The Justice Department wanted Google’s entire search index, billions of pages and two months’ worth of queries, for a broad civil case. Brazil, by contrast, is looking for information in specific cases involving Google’s social networking site, Orkut, said the company.
“What they’re asking for is not billions of pages,” said Nicole Wong, Google associate general counsel. “In most cases, it’s relatively discrete — small and narrow.”
The Brazilian authorities are particularly interested in Internet protocol addresses with time and date stamps that can help trace a specific user. Registration information Google could provide includes names and e-mail addresses.
While Brazil was threatening Google with a fine of $23,000 a day, the reasons probably have less to do with money than with keeping Orkut big in Brazil, the one country where it is very popular.
Wow, has it really been a week? I finally got an internet connection on my honeymoon, so I can finally blog for the first time in a week. Sorry, but I have been enjoying myself…
Two lessons about marriage: It is surprisingly happy, and surprisingly hard. You find these amazing moments where something fun or great happens, and you smile a little, and then you realize that the person that created that moment isn’t going anywhere, and you can always count on that. And there are moments were something difficult happens, and you realize you’ve commited to a lifetime of it.
It isn’t always easy, but, so far, it has been completely worth it.
Okay, so, how about some stories? I’ve got 12,000 Bloglines items, so time to get going…
Google And Baidu Split
Google has cut out of its 2.6% share in Chinese search engine Baidu. Last year, Google bought into Baidu as a way to ensure itself some sort of foothold in China, when there was no controversial Google China site and Google.com was getting blocked in that country. As Valleywag says, “Google finally realized that enemies don’t make the best bedfellows”. I’m not sure the investment was ever that good of an idea, and I hope Google at least made a few bucks on the deal.
Eric Schmidt’s Getting Married? Valleywag also says that it is common gossip that Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife “are on the outs”, but they’ve also received a tip that Schmidt’s girlfriend Marcy Simon (a PR consultant) has been seen wearing a very fancy engagement ring. Not sure whether to feel sorry for one marriage, happy for the new one, but I do hope that, if it is true, Marcy talks some PR pillow talk to Eric. Google could use a wee bit more influence from PR.
Ah screw it: There are over 500 news sources. Ow, it burns!
Google AutoLink Patent SEO By The Sea found a Google patent application filed in late 2004 for the AutoLink technology used in the Google Toolbar. If you like technical stuff, it explains how AutoLink works under the hood (it involves stripping out all the formatting and analyzing the content for words related to addresses, phone numbers flight information and other things).
Yahoo Sued For Google Ad Buy The latest company getting sued for buying trademarked terms on Google is, surprisingly, Yahoo. Yahoo and three other companies have been sued by lovecity.com for buying keywords containing the term “lovecity”. The companies in the suit all bought ads on searches for lovecity, a dating site, in order to advertise their own sites. The case is clear-cut enough that all are likely to turn up losing.
Orkut Worm Steals Banking Credentials
A worm, targeted at Brazilian users of Google’s Orkut social networking service, was attempting to steal user’s banking credentials. The worm was aimed at gaining access to Brazilian bank accounts, since over 70% of Orkut’s users are Brazilian.
The worm, dubbed MW.Orc, primarily targets Brazilian users of Google’s Orkut Web site. It uses a message in Portuguese to entice people to click on a file that is disguised as a JPEG image, FaceTime Security Labs said in a statement.
The initial file, called “minhasfotos.exe,” creates two additional files on a user’s system, “winlogon_.jpg” and “wzip32.exe,” FaceTime said. When the user, after the initial compromise, clicks on the “My Computer” icon in Windows XP, an e-mail with his or her personal data is sent to the anonymous attacker, the security company said.
Additionally, the compromised computer may be added to a network of hijacked PCs, known as a botnet. The pest also tries to propagate by placing a malicious link on the profiles of people in the Orkut user’s network, FaceTime said.
Google reportedly had a fix within an hour, with work on more permanent solutions.
It appears that Google and Nike’s soccer community, Joga, has been opened up to basically everyone with a Google account (although it may require an Orkut login, not sure). I’ve poked around in it, and it is basically just a shell for Orkut, and if you aren’t that into soccer/futbol, it probably won’t hold any appeal for you. Its Orkut, with better styling, a few customization options (background image) and a lot of soccer profile options (style of play, position, favorite score, favorite national team, worst in-game injury).
Perhaps Miel is more into soccer than me, and would like to give it a shot?
A note: No matter which background image you pick, it appears Nike has figured out how to make sure you never miss the Nike “swoosh” logo. Branding! Yeah!
Greg Linden also has some good stuff, and links to Google’s webcast page, which has the webcast for you to view, as well as the presentation slides in PDF format. Of particular interest is the dream of “a world with infinite storage, bandwidth, and CPU power”. While I think its a great goal to shoot for, Google needs to be willing to admit it certainly hasn’t reached that level yet, and many of its services suffer as a result. Developing services with an assumption of bandwidth and computing ability that doesn’t exist is just reckless.