Google OpenSocial: What About the Users?

So the tech press is on fire today with the announcement of Google’s new “Facebook Killer“, OpenSocial.

There’s a clear benefit for Google: more eyeballs, more advertising revenue, and more industry entrenchment. There’s also one for established brands and thought leaders with big audiences. They can further aggregate (and presumably monetize) their traffic.

What I don’t see as clearly is how all this benefits your average end-user. What does OpenSocial do for me?

4 thoughts on “Google OpenSocial: What About the Users?”

  1. From what I understand, this would allow me to “not join, yet participate” in these social networks. Of course, if I don’t join, doesn’t that mean I’m not interested in participating either?

    I also wonder whether the demand here doesn’t so much come from the users and the developers, as from companies trying to create a market and get back on the wagon.

    Exciting, but early still to be shooting off fireworks.

  2. Exactly so. Until we see some live apps and some actual user behavior, it’s way too soon to be going on about who is or is not killed by this.

  3. I’m not sure there are direct user benefits, but there may be indirect benefits… Since a lot of effort will go into developing one framework the framework should become mature rather quickly, and more developers will be versed in implementing it. That means more social sites with better features…

    But I think the proponents of OpenSocial would say it avoids a Microsoft Windows style problem where the developers stick with the platform they know. Now the platform is independent of the site – so it will be easier for new sites to compete with established sites if the established sites start slacking off and not meeting the evolving needs of their users. Again, only an indirect, long-term benefit to the user.

    Still, I’m a bit skeptical since it takes a certain critical mass to drive an online community. It’s not like there are going to be 1,000 FaceBook’s any time soon – nor would we want that. But I could be valuable for smaller, established communities that need a better way to exchanges ideas than what they currently have. The 4D developer community is a good example. I’m not sure OpenSocial v1.0 will meet their needs, but given that OpenSocial will have a large developer community, features will be added quickly and communities like the 4D developer community will get their needs met sooner rather than later.

  4. Good point, Jay. 4D is the kind of decentralized usergroup that might eventually benefit from an OpenSocial app. With the international nature of the 4D developer community, finding critical mass on any one social networking site has been a challenge for 4D-ers. But an app that helped link 4D developers whether they’re on Bebo, Orkut, Facebook, or LinkedIn might be of some real benefit to the community.

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