Google Launches OpenSocial

Release below. I will comment after kids go to bed, or Weds… But here's the big question: Will Facebook and Myspace play? ——— Google Launches OpenSocial to Spread Social Applications Across the Web MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — November 1, 2007 – Google, Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced the release…

Release below. I will comment after kids go to bed, or Weds…

But here’s the big question: Will Facebook and Myspace play?


Google Launches OpenSocial to Spread Social Applications Across the Web

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — November 1, 2007 – Google, Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced the release of OpenSocial — a set of common APIs for building social applications across the web — for developers of social applications and websites that want to add social features. OpenSocial will unleash more powerful and pervasive social capabilities for the web, empowering developers to build far-reaching applications that users can enjoy regardless of the websites, web applications, or social networks they use. The release of OpenSocial marks the first time that multiple social networks have been made accessible under a common API to make development and distribution easier and more efficient for developers.

The proliferation of unique APIs across dozens of social websites is forcing developers to choose which ones to write applications for – and then spend their time writing separately for each. OpenSocial gives developers of social applications a single set of APIs to learn for their application to run on any OpenSocial-enabled website. By providing these simple, standards-based technologies, OpenSocial will speed innovation and bring more social features to more places across the web. Users win too: they get more interesting, engaging, or useful features faster.

“The web is fundamentally better when it’s social, and we’re only just starting to see what’s possible when you bring social information into different contexts on the web,” said XXXX. “There’s a lot of innovation that will be spurred simply by creating a standard way for developers to run social applications in more places. With the input and iteration of the community, we hope OpenSocial will become a standard set of technologies for making the web social.”

Learn Once, Reach Across the Web

One of the most important benefits of OpenSocial is the vast distribution network that developers will have for their applications. The sites that have already committed to supporting OpenSocial — Website Partner A, Website Partner B, Website Partner C, etc. –- represent an audience of well over 100 million users globally. Critical for time- and resource-strapped developers is being able to “learn once, write anywhere” — learn the OpenSocial APIs once and then build applications that work with any OpenSocial-enabled websites.

Several developers, including Gadget Partner Z, Gadget Partner Y, Gadget Partner X, etc., have already built applications that use the OpenSocial APIs. Starting today, a developer sandbox is available at so developers can go in and start testing the OpenSocial APIs. The goal is to have developers build applications in the sandbox so they can deploy on Orkut and ultimately other OpenSocial sites.

More Social In More Places

The existence of this single programming model also helps websites who are eager to satisfy their users’ interest in social features. More developers building social applications more easily translates directly into more features more quickly for websites.

“Orkut has tens of millions of passionate users who are constantly clamoring for new ways to have fun with their friends and express themselves through Orkut,” said Amar Gandhi, group product manager for Orkut, Google’s social networking service. “By using OpenSocial to open up Orkut as a platform for any developer, we can tap into the vast creativity of the community and make new features available to our users frequently.”

The common method that OpenSocial provides for hosting social applications means that websites can engage a much larger pool of third party developers than they could otherwise. They can direct resources that might have gone to maintaining a proprietary API and supporting its developer community to other projects.

Because OpenSocial removes the hassle from developing for individual websites, developers can unleash their creativity anywhere that catches their interest. This will translate into a wave of social features in contexts outside of the personal entertainment and games that are traditionally thought of as the social web.

Three APIs available now

The OpenSocial APIs give developers access to the data needed to build social applications: access to a user’s profile, their friends, and the ability to let their friends know that activities have taken place. OpenSocial resources for developers and websites are available now at

Developers will have access to:

– Three JavaScript and Gdata APIs to access social functions

– A live developer sandbox on Orkut at

Websites will have access to:

– A tool to help OpenSocial-enable their websites

– A support forum for communicating with Google and other websites

All of these resources and the live developer sandbox are available now.

Developers already at work

Dozens of developers have helped test early iterations of the OpenSocial APIs and Google is grateful for the extensive feedback they have provided.

[List of all gadget developers]

Links to these gadgets are available at

17 thoughts on “Google Launches OpenSocial”

  1. WTF is open about this?

    When I go to I get some empty marketing mumbo-jumbo and an invitation to “log in” — login to WHAT?

    These guys KEEP drifting away from what turned Google into the “killer app”. And — in case these guys happen to be watching (which actually practices what is preaches about open conversation — haha, today, on the 490th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses), then perhaps they’ll do something about the 404 ERROR MESSAGE that I get when I attempt to visit

    I think that the first fumble happened when they said they “didn’t want to see” on their organic search results (they would rather sell links to dubious sites instead, because they can earn a dime or a buck or ten bucks — and they might say “farewell — and GOOD LUCK!!” 😉

    The second fumble was “miserable failure” — and as I’ve said before, a search on that string now returns more results about Google than it returns about George Bush. It makes you wonder….

    Oh, yea — Happy Halloween! (and all that jazz 😉

  2. The sites aren’t live yet because the press release hasn’t been officially released yet. It’s date stamped Nov 1st and a bunch of the details are left out in the middle/at the bottom.

  3. We have to see what this looks like when it actually launches, but it brings up a number of questions.

    1) What is Google getting out of this, besides slowing down Facebook and MySpace by giving developers a larger field to develop for? Is there information they will be gathering on my activities at all the various sites that they will use in their ad program?

    2) Do all these groups have to update their user agreements for this to take place? Do they all already cover this kind of thing for happening, or are there lots of behind the scenes changes to user agreements going on?

    Don’t get me wrong, the idea is great, but to me this is something for Mitch Kapor and the open source community to handle, not a for-profit corp. We need to trust one unifying system that is not out to pick sides and make deals, but treats all developers and groups fairly. I don”t think a for-profit can do that — in fact, they are already choosing sides and giving a huge head start to hand-picked groups like Slide and Rockyou months before any other developers heard of it. For this to work, no preferences like that can be made, and the open source community would not have made that mistake.

    So the best answer for Google is to take this idea and open source it. Get it out of Google’s control. Then it will have the best chance of success.

  4. While in general I am a big fan of openness, and love projects like OpenOffice and such, I guess I just don’t understand the point of an open social network. I know it may seem hard to understand, but maybe the walls around the gardens are not just there to enrich the owners of the garden. Maybe the walls are there to preserve the quality of the garden itself.

    Sometimes I want a clean separation to exist between various social networks in which I participate. Not because there is anything that goes on in one network that I am afraid of folks finding out on another network. It’s just that, when I log on to LinkedIn, I really do not want to be bitten by a Facebookian “zombie” application. Nor do I want to start giving $1 icon gifts to my professional contacts (or getting them, either, for that matter).

    Nick Carr had a good post about this on October 10th, entitled “Can I bring my flame thrower into Second Life?”

    The whole point of separate online virtual worlds is that each virtual world explicitly limits the types of interactions you can have in that world, so as to define and construct a unitary sense of quality and purpose within that world. While a group of students are listening to a lecture in Second Life, you really do not want to allow some Halo3 character with a rocket launcher to start blowing up the auditorium.

    Similarly, with online social networks, you really do not want them to be as open as it sounds like Google is trying to make them. I don’t want a zombie application to even be able to exist in every single network of which I am a part. It’s not even a matter of me not choosing to participate, if “bitten” while on LinkedIn. I do not want anyone else to be able to bite me.

  5. Hello Guys/Girls, if there are any developers on here who are excited about getting their hands on the OpenSocial APIs (I know I am!), I have made a website/forum for discussion, would be cool to get a few active members to get the website going

  6. LOL, JG — so true! And the logical “follow up” question is: what is the SOCIAL FABRIC that holds these marketing platforms together? (higher CTRs?!?)

    LOL, ROFL,…

    ;D nmw

  7. I think JG raises some good points about wanting to keep walls between social networks, but I think that is part of what is good about openSOCIAL (although all this is pretty speculative since they still haven’t put up the API page – what are they waiting till 9am PT?).

    From the few details that have emerged, it seems that Google is just proposing a standardized API for those little mini-apps (or widgets) to communicate with the underlying SN. This should appeal to both to the app developers and to social networks (I work for Eons, a social network) because it allows them to work together without every relationship being a one-off (write once, run anywhere). It doesn’t sound like they are trying to share data (like profiles) between networks, which most networks won’t favor and I as a user get very troubled by.

    Facebooks “open” API, by contrast, is much more about opening the Facebook platform to other app developers (which might include a “social network” that wants to host itself within Facebook). Here there is only one user population, Facebooks. My read is that Google is trying to blunt Facebooks growth as the defacto platform for reaching SN users, by lowering the barrier for smaller networks to work with add-on applications.

  8. …because it allows them to work together without every relationship being a one-off (write once, run anywhere). It doesn’t sound like they are trying to share data (like profiles) between networks

    I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t fully grok the initiative, either. I haven’t had the chance to read all the relevant information.

    But once again, even you admit that there is going to be this ability to write once, run anywhere. That’s what I am talking about. I’m not talking about wanting to retain profile (data) walls. I am talking about wanting to retain “rules of interaction” (code) walls. If anything, I wouldn’t mind a linking of data between the social networks. But I do not want to have a linking of code between social networks.

    Why? Because code is the fabric (to borrow nmw’s word above) that stitches together the social nature of that network. The code, the “rules of the game” if you will, is what gives the social network its character. If all of a sudden the code becomes homogenized across all social networks, then each individual network will lose its distinctive character. And that, for lack of a better word, sucks.

    Let me make an analogy to sports. Football, baseball, basketball, etc. each have their own separate, distinct “code bases”, by which I mean the set of rules and instructions that governs the nature of interaction between players. These code bases are actually limitations, walled gardens. These walled gardens preserve the character of the sport. It doesn’t matter if you get 4 downs in football. In baseball you still only get 3 outs.

    Now, imagine if these lines started to blur, if the walls started to merge, through some “OpenSport API”. Imagine if some league commissioner could “write a rule once, apply it anywhere”. Then all of a sudden you’d have basketball’s 3-second rule (no offensive players for more than 3 seconds in the lane) applied to baseball: No batter would be able to remain in the batter’s box for more than 3 seconds. Batters would have to jump into the box, quickly swing, and then jump out again! Or imagine if basketball was suddenly affected by a football rule: After three attempts to move the basketball forward, a player can now punt-kick the basketball to the other team.


    No, we keep the lines clear, we keep the gardens walled, because sometimes some “applications” in one game do not make any sense in another game. The ability to write once, NOT run anywhere is actually an advantage!

    However, I see no problem with the data actually being able to freely migrate and move around. Again, the sports analogy would be Bo Jackson, who played both professional baseball and football in the same year. He had no problem being a member of two separate, distinct “networks”. It’s just that when he was in his baseball network, he didn’t start applying his football network rules, i.e. he didn’t start tackling the first baseman in order to get a single.

    That’s all I’m really saying here. I actually think the ability to write once, run anywhere is a distinct disadvantage for social networks. You go on to a network for a specific purpose, and as that purpose starts to blur, the network loses its value. Not for the owners of the network. But for me, the individual participant in that network. I really don’t want to have to start turning down “zombie bite requests” on LinkedIn, the same way I do on Facebook.

  9. Hi John,

    When will the smartest geeks in the world learn…….

    Isn’t this just how they all got together against microsoft, and google ended up owning the search-space; or is it meant to replace openID, sit alongside it; or is it like the mobile phone industry where different companies agree to standards to expand the general market-But ultimately, just one combined question: Who owns it and are the other non-google partners equitable in the venture?

    In this one “get together” to create a unified bulwalk against facebook, Google get even more access to the information going through the (inter-)network, then it’s already able to have.

    Kind regards,

    Shakir Razak

  10. A few questions I haven’t seen anybody raise yet:

    1. Are these APIs / Protocols going to be standardized by any international standards body (ECMA, OSI, IETF, etc) or will the always be under Google’s control?

    2. What will the terms of use be? Eg, if I want my social network host to support OpenSocial, what are the license terms to implement OS?

    3. Will Google provide any implementation of the protocols for (server side | client side | both | neither)? If so, how will they be licensed?

    Personally I *think* this sounds like a good thing in general, but until they actually release whatever it is they’re releasing, I worry that a lot of us are putting the cart before the horse.

    Also, if anybody is interested in building a truly decentralized, federated social networking platform (Open Source, of course) see

  11. If you are interested in reading about Google’s monopolization of the search advertising market and the related market for monetizing of website traffic for social networking websites, read my 2nd amended complaint and my brief on appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Links are provided at my website

    I am the person suing Google for monopolization.

    Carl E. Person
    antitrust and civil rights attorney

  12. i also blogged about opening up social networks and why it’s so important:
    “A common set of APIs shared across social networks makes a developer’s job a lot easier by enabling them to implement one codebase and share their apps across multiple platforms. This in turn benefits the end user by ensuring that a rich suite of tools will be available across several social networks and affords a more integrated and less fragmented experience. It also prevents one company from forcing everyone to dance to their tune and more importantly, in any discipline, openness and collaboration foster innovation.”

  13. Dawa,

    I checked out madfairy — I would have several recommendations for that site (none technical, all more about about usability). Apart from that, I do not pay much attention to (I prefer 😉 ….

    Nobody is being forced to visit forced to visit ANY site (e.g. or whatever) — generally, you get what you pay for. People who are looking for a free ride may just get “taken for a ride” — whatever….

    I as a user like to stay in control of how much personal data I am sharing. If I feel that my data might be hijacked or mined for marketing purposes, then I may simply hold back on disclosing alot about myself (unless I WANT to be marketed to and/or hope that my data might “infect” the web ;).

    I think it is great that people can choose for themselves which social networks to join and/or leave. Granted, MySpace.COM may currently be a large social network (note, however, that a recent Hitwise chart [see e.g. ] might be cause for alarm 😉

  14. David Glazer, Dir. Eng.: “there’s really only a handful of services that have to be exposed by an API […] the last service is less about information and more about the persistence of application information without requiring a server.” (

    , ca. 9 min.)

    Google appears to be positioning itself less and less as a search engine — and more and more as a data server (note that the data being gathered is depicted as quite simple [cheap]; in contrast, the data retrieval processing is depicted as rather difficult [expensive]). The argument seems to be that Google is willing to do this to save your time/effort/money — and it only needs a couple data points that are purportedly not-at-all difficult to share…. Fascinating!

    Perhaps the entire Internet could be simplified this way — that way, no one would have to worry about maintaining servers at all: Google could simplytake care ofeverything!

    ;D nmw

  15. Google is doing this to extend their power as advertiser middleware, if not as a direct counter attack to Facebook, whose intention to launch an ad platform ultimately threatens Google’s core business. Social networks are natural ad-space – and social network context is superior to Google search phrases for targeting and segmenting people.

    I wouldn’t worry about the API making all networks the same.

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