Google’s OpenSocial API – No Beef (yet)

Nov 2, 2007 – 06:54 by Ryan

Yesterday, Google released their OpenSocial API. As a social application service provider we’re excited about the concept of write once run anywhere. What’s the problem? It’s all hype right now. Google should have spent more time polishing OpenSocial before they released the product. The only live site that supports applications right now is Orkut and you still have to apply for access (we’re still waiting). Google has assembled a large set of partners who have pledged their support but you have to ask yourself, if Google asked you to join a technology preview group, would you refuse?

Markup Language
One of the real powers of the Facebook platform is FBML. Facebook provides a markup language that helps developers keep the look and feel of their applications consistent with that of Facebook. FBML also reduces the amount of UI code a developer must write. We would like to see the same functionality in OpenSocial.

JavaScript Only
OpenSocial was released with a limited JavaScript API. Facebook has client libraries for 14 languages.

Missing APIs
The following APIs have been announced and Google has offered a preview of the format but they’re not available/live yet.

People Data API
Activities Data API
Persistence Data API

Developer Mindshare
The release of the Google OpenSocial API is disruptive but we don’t see a mass migration in the near future. When MySpace is up and running and the product is actually production ready (i.e., all the APIs, client libraries and actual live sites) you will see more people adopt the technology.

Memory Lane
In 1999 Microsoft released Passport, a unified profile/payment solution. While this isn’t an apple to apple comparison you might remember that they launched with over 50 partners. Anybody use Passport recently?

Going Forward
The OpenSocial API is something we’re going to watch closely but we’re going to sit on the sidelines until the product is a bit more polished.

Advice to Social Networks
Build your own platform technology. Embrace the partnership with Google but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t have a clue about how to build a platform? Partner with Deft Labs :-)

Google Engineering
We’re assuming someone pushed you to release this… alpha.

Social Sites – Monthly Page Views

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