OpenSocial and Social Communications

OpensocialAs I’m sure you’ve seen by now, Google announced a component of their social application strategy with the launch of OpenSocial.

From Google’s Amar Gandhi and Peter Chane, Group Product Managers

"There’s no denying that the web enables communication. The killer apps of the web — email, instant messaging, blogging — have enabled us to communicate with our friends, family, and the rest of the world on a large scale. But there is a newer characteristic of the web that has been emerging: to become social. The first wave of killer apps allowed us to communicate with the world at scale. The next wave is about connecting us and our online activities with our friends.

Social networks have seen that next wave, and have started opening up developer APIs to enable third-party innovation on their websites. This is a great thing, but it has also led to a growing number of APIs which a developer must learn. So we took a look at the state of the web and asked how we could make development easier for both websites and developers. Out of that exercise came OpenSocial."  …and…

"Perhaps most interestingly, we will see social capabilities move into new contexts. OpenSocial will also work in non-traditional social contexts, such as on Salesforce.com and Oracle. With a common set of APIs, it will be even easier to extend social functionality. Beyond the many fun and entertaining social applications we already have seen, we think we’ll see a number of social applications emerge in business contexts.

Lastly, the web is global, and so is the scope of OpenSocial. When you add up the current websites who have committed to implementing OpenSocial, you realize that a developer building for OpenSocial has the chance to reach over 200M+ users in dozens of countries. So over the course of the next few months, we’re going to continue laying the foundations of OpenSocial to enable this common dream for a more social web."

So Google’s answer to the emerging competition from Facebook is to go "Open".  In essence, when asking themselves how to compete with Facebook, they remained true to prior strategies that sparked the WWGD model (what would Google do).  Their answer: broad the scope of the competitive playing field by going open ( open api ) and wider (broad multinational ecosystem) than Facebook has offered with their F8 social API platform. Marc Andreesen founder of Ning and supporter ofOpenSocial describes it this way :

"Freedom wins, and openness wins. You can hold it back for some period of time, but in the long run, freedom always wins because freedom and openness let people all over the world be fully creative and innovative in every way they want. And the creativity and innovation that freedom and openness enable will always swamp anyone’s attempt to wall off a proprietary world with tight controls and sharp limitations."

So what might this mean to emerging mobile, social and enteprise communication applications?

I believe there are valuable opportunities at the intersection of OpenSocial and Social Communication apps (see Jeff Pulver’s Theorem on Social Communications) for the enterprise.  The future of enterprise applications is Social, Mobile, On-Demand and Visual/Voice driven.   

What might these applications look like?

Start by thinking about this line again…

"The first wave of killer apps allowed us to communicate with the world at scale. The next wave is about connecting us and our online activities with our friends."

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