Google’s recent announcement of their OpenSocial API’s appears to be a new form of middleware for connecting social networks together. But it’s too early to tell, since the technical details are not available yet. The notion of a middleware service for connecting social networks and sharing data between them makes a lot of sense, and if Google has really made it "open" then it could be very useful. The question remains of course, why would Google do this unless there is some way they have a unique benefit from it? My guess is that they will run advertising through this system, and will have unique advantages in their ability to target ads to people based on the social network profiles they can see via this system. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but it is interesting.
From the perspective of Radar Networks and Twine.com, this is a trend we are watching closely. It could be something to integrate with, but until we really see the technical details we’ll reserve judgement.Social tagging: Knowledge Networking > Radar Networks > Search > Social Networks
In my opinion Google has realized that the SNS field was too complicated and too much vertical. For instance, Orkut is 70% Brazilian. And even MySpace and Facebook are not pure horizontal social network services (but they are trying to). Google prefers build horizontal services (for everyone, not for a specific community), so their OpenSocial is not a bad idea because they provide services for ALL portals. My only regret, I have not read any references to the W3C widget standardization.
I guess google really regrets they didn’t make Orkut as big as possible. Users of a social network are more “sticky” then users of a search engine. It is easy to switch to another search engine, but people usually don’t want to switch away from a social network where their friends are hanging out. Facebook can start a search engine, facebook mail, facebook ebay or facebook paypal if they really want. The point is Facebook is capturing more and more “sticky” users, eventually it may be a threat to the basic foundation of google – the large user base attracted by a fast and accurate search engine. The opensocial project may be is one way to draw some attention from facebook.