Is Google playing Microsoft to Facebook's Apple?
And it looks like Microsoft arch rival Google may be playing the same card when it comes to social networking. The company's OpenSocial social networking platform allows third party companies to partner with Google. While Facebook opened up its API earlier this year, allowing third parties to create applications, Google has attracted some major players, including MySpace, Six Apart, and Bebo, LinkedIn, Ning, Friendster, Plaxo, and Hi5. That's sort of the equivalent of getting IBM and HP on your side.
But here's what makes OpenSocial different. You'll notice that some of the big names in there are other social networks. That's because OpenSocial is a platform, not a website. MySpace, Friendster, and other social networks partnering with Google will use OpenSocial APIs, meaning if you develop an application for one site it will function on all the other sites.
In other words, OpenSocial isn't a social networking site. It's a common set of APIs that will be used by social networking sites -- and Google is behind the initiative, which gives them the same kind of status here that Microsoft had in the early days of desktop operating systems. You know, if you think desktop OSes and social networks are comparable, which they're probably not.