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OpenSocial: "It's Good for Developers" Says Google's Joe Kraus

Joe Kraus is Director of Product Management, Google

Google saw a problem with the way social networks were going, according to Joe Kraus, Director of Product Management, and OpenSocial was its way of overcoming it. Till now, to get an application to run on all the diferent social networks a developer had to customize their application for each one. "When your 'development team' is just one or two people," notes Kraus, "the proliferation of APIs forces you to make tough choices, because you can't do that much one-off work."

"When developers can't afford to do the work to make their applications work on a certain social network, the people using those networks lose out," Kraus added.

That's why Google introduced OpenSocial, he continued, allowing developers to write an application once that will run anywhere that supports the OpenSocial APIs, be it MySpace, Engage.com, Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, Ning, Oracle, orkut, Plaxo, Salesforce.com , Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, or XING (the founding members of OpenSocial).

As Kraus succinctly expressed it:
"It's good for developers because it makes it easier for them to focus on making their web apps better; they get lots of distribution with a lot less work. It's good for websites, because they can tap into the creativity of the largest possible developer community (and no longer have to compete with one another for developer attention). And finally, it's good for users, because they get more applications in more places."
Fully explained here at SYS-CON.com ON October 31 thanks to a meticulously detailed "pre-announcement" by Marc Andreessen, whose Ning is one of the social networks involved in the OpenSocial alliance, the set of common APIs is a shrewd response to the proliferation of unique APIs across dozens of social websites that has till now been forcing developers to choose which ones to write applications for – and then spend their time writing separately for each.
 
The idea of a Social Web has been gaining momentum rapidly, and Google's championship of OpenSocial has even raised the question of whether it isn't de facto becoming a more agile version of W3C,  leveraging its phenomenal market cap to help foster universal standards.

The company's market cap last week reached $219BN, making it for the first time ever one of America's top five companies by market cap, behind only ExxonMobil, General Electric, Microsoft and AT&T.

Google's success with APIs has already been proven by Google Gears, aimed at enabling developers to create web applications that work offline. Launched in May as an open-source browser extension, Google Gears tackled a key limitation of the browser in order to make it a stronger platform for deploying all types of applications and enabling a better user experience.

Just as Google Gears was offered as a free, fully open source technology in order to help every web application, not just Google applications, so OpenSocial will benefit the entire social networking ecosystem, and not just Google's own Orkut and iGoogle.

One of Google's mantras is: "We believe one of our chief competitive advantages is surprise."

Quod erat demonstrandum.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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