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November 02, 2007

Will OpenSocial Do Better Than GoogleTalk?

I'm a member of the Social Network Portability Google group for about a month now and there has been a pretty steady flow of exchanges that whole time. But the focus over the last two days has been nothing but OpenSocial, Google's new set of APIs that will let developers create applications that will work with social network sites like MySpace, LinkedIn, Friendster, Ning and a host of others. Also joining the cause is Salesforce.com, Oracle, Six Apart...and a host of others.

The promise behind this move, besides slowing the Facebook freight train that Microsoft just jumped on board, is to allow members of different networks to communicate and collaborate without having to join a new network. Allowing developers to create apps that can work with multiple networks could really make it easier to "come together", and Google has reached out to some powerful partners to increase the chances of success. It all sounds good at the moment, but....

I just remember there was a good amount of buzz when Google announced Google Talk, the instant messenger they built on open standards. The hope was that Google would force the major players to cooperate and make their instant message apps talk to each other so that you wouldn't have to have an account for each service so that you can talk to all your buddies. There has been some movement here but not the radical change I was hoping for...at least not yet.

I think OpenSocial has a chance to change things a lot quicker than Google Talk has. For one Google has reached out and got a number of major players on board right from the beginning. And these guys are different than the monsters of the instant messaging game - AOL, Yahoo! and Microsoft. At the time Google Talk came out these guys were trying to be THE winner and force people to choose one...in other words no playing together, they each wanted to be THE CHOSEN.

But in this new age of Web 2.0 and collaboration, maybe there's hope that Google and its many partners will pull this off. Maybe Facebook (and their new buds at Microsoft) will open it up a bit as well. I hope so because I really don't need to join another social network just because a few folks I know are on it, or because it has a nice function but no one I know is on it. I'd just like to reach the people I want to reach regardless of the networks we belong to. Could you imagine if a Verizon customer couldn't call a Sprint customer? How about a Microsoft Outlook user not being able to email someone with Lotus Notes? Let's just hope we're on the right path here.

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