Google’s OpenSocial to Debut Thursday, APIs for All

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TechCrunch had things to reveal today about Google’s upcoming meta social network, code-named “MakaMaka,” which we reported on earlier. The project, which will be called OpenSocial, will be debuting Thursday under Google’s API section. Contrary to previous rumors, it in itself isn’t a social network, but a kind of a “group” platform — a set of common APIs shared by a bunch of other social networks.

Some of the social networks Google plans to involve into OpenSocial include Orkut, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Hi5, Plaxo, and Friendster — all names you’ll probably recognize as second-tier alternatives to MySpace and Facebook. The common APIs, three of them included in the launch, will enable developers to access:

  • OpensocialProfile Information (user data)
  • Friends Information (social graph)
  • Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff)

As Richard MacManus points out, OpenSocial will take the “third place” of social networks. In other words, Google is collectively making an effort to gather the “others” and put forth some competition toward efforts by the two giants, MySpace and Facebook. And this fits perfectly in their goal to be an open, developer-oriented company, and empower thousands in building on top of them. Who have they gathered so far? Flixster, iLike, RockYou and Slide, among others, whom you’ll know as the giants of Facebook Platform and MySpace widgets.

With Google playing the tertiary party in the social networking game, things have just got a little more interesting. It’s a great time to be a developer. More so, having a web service which piggy-backs on social platforms seems to be the ideal distribution mechanism for many. And for the users, there are great benefits — data is converging, information is being distributed everywhere by everyone, and appropriately so, two words best describe this change — “open,” and “social.”

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