Google and Friends to Gang Up on Facebook

Link: Google and Friends to Gang Up on Facebook

“On Thursday, an alliance of companies led by Google plans to begin introducing a common set of standards to allow software developers to write programs for Google’s social network, Orkut, as well as others, including LinkedIn, hi5, Friendster and Ning, according to people briefed on the plans. Those people asked not to be named because they agreed to keep the alliance’s plans confidential.”

We’ll see what this looks like when it emerges, but whaddya wanna bet that the “standard” they come up with walks and talks like Facebook’s API yet is every so slightly different (and incompatible) with Facebook’s API?

And how is LinkedIn supposed to factor in here, I wonder, with their famous opposition to the notion of an open platform?

I’m still willing to accept that this initiative is getting lost in the NY Times’ muddled inability to do a decent and technically accurate story on Silicon Valley technology, but it really sounds Google is trying hard to turn “openness” and “interoperability” into the new “embrace, extend, extinguish” here. Which, if successful, would be quite a feat.

Update: A second-day story on this quoted Joe Krause on behalf of Google. From this one could deduce that Google’s entry into the “open but not Facebook” cabal will be the relaunched JotSpot, whenever they get around to re-launching it.

Update: Marc Andressen has more about this on his blog. I wish he’d posted this yesterday instead of letting everybody get half of the story via TechCrunch. Marc’s post clears things up a bit but I’m still interested in seeing what the bits look like. It seems like this is more an attack on Facebook’s proprietary markup language than anything else. Memo to interoperable social network cabal: there is no such thing as a platform that does not use some kind of proprietary semantics to map out its feature set. You’ll find yourself doing this as well if you haven’t done it already.

Side note to web marketers, PR mavens and evangelists: if you want to ensure that there is an elevated level of confusion associated with your launch, one sure way to accomplish that is to provide an exclusive leak to TechCrunch prior to your public launch. I know it’s virtually impossible to get on TechCrunch unless you give them a scoop, but there’s a cost associated with making those guys your media leak of choice. To put it another way, no product launch has ever failed because the product didn’t brief TechCrunch about it a few days ahead of time.

Update: Michael Arrington’s headline on this today says “checkmate!” which is of course nonsense since the game isn’t even half over, OpenSocial hasn’t even produced anything yet and Facebook could of course join at any time if they wanted. His commenters mostly seem to agree.

Saul Hansell of the NY Times has some less hysterical thoughts on this; he points out that “LinkedIn has also said it may ask for a revenue share from those who
create applications for its network. And haggling over money, no doubt,
will slow down the deployment of many social applications.” No kidding. This is my main concern about the path that LinkedIn is going down. Having to ask permission to build an app and then provide a revenue share isn’t a platform; it’s the definition of a walled garden. AOL was successful at this for a while in the 1990s because they were able to bring a mass audience when nobody else could, but these days, that dog won’t hunt, monsieur.