Tuesday Nov 18, 2008

Why OpenSocial for Social Networking applications and platforms

Today, you dont have to be an abnormal geeky engineer to develop IT applications. Infact, its almost where software engineers are an endangered species and neophytes will take over all engineering jobs. Particularly in the Social Networking world, with the advent of  ever growing supply of interesting Web APIs and Open Application platforms, almost anyone and everyone can develop a Web-scale application with very little to no technical background, and potentially make millions if the idea is cool and clever.

The most popular Application Platform today seems to be the Facebook Platform, given it has the maximum users (over 120 million users worldwide) and applications (over 40k). Facebook has its own proprietary programming API and language called FBML and an application written to FBML would run only on Facebook or a site built on Facebook platform.

OpenSocial on the  other hand is an open source API originally developed by Google. It is a community effort,  supported by Sun(Check out Project SocialSite), MySpace, Orkut, Ning, Hi5, Google App Engine among others. Languages supported are HTML, JavaScript, XML, ReST.

As a developer, building an application on OpenSocial would mean that it can be deployed on multiple Social Networking sites that support OpenSocial and your total number of users across these sites might add up to more than what you might get from a single proprietary site. Plus, you might be able to tap into different geographies and age groups depending on which social networking site is more popular in a given region. Eg. Orkut is more popular in Asia whereas MySpace is more popular in USA and Bebo is more popular in the UK. Also, you automatically build safety in the numbers by spreading the risk, such that if one site is down, other sites are up and still churning money for you.

Yesterday I had a chance to attend a presentation by Dave, author of BuddyPoke, one of the most popular application on Orkut. It was very interesting to learn that BuddyPoke is an application developed by 2 developers, is live on 8 Social Networking sites (MySpace, NetLog, Orkut, Friendster, Hyves, Hi5), has 26 million+ users  with a peak install rate of 260K installs in one day. It was launched just 6 months ago. Compare this to some of the most popular Facebook applications like RockYou that has I am told about 20 million Facebook users. It takes Dave less than a few hours to get his BuddyPoke application up and running on a new OpenSocial platform.

You get my point. Web is Good, and being Social is Good. However, Social Web is even better. We all have the opportunity to shape the future of Social Networking via our contributions to OpenSocial.


And if you are a OpenSocial or Facebook developer, dont forget to leverage the Sun's offer of free hosting on Joyent for 1 yr.

Wednesday Oct 29, 2008

My 2 cents on Microsoft Azure

Microsoft recently announded their Cloud offering called Azure. Azure is more of a PaaS Windows cloud, offering their proprietary closed Winows products  as a service. Seems to me like that traditional Software as a Service (Saas) model. Does not REALLY excite me! Marketing dollars well spent though in picking up the name Azure, meaning "clear cloudless sky". In addition, they have not yet announced anything around SLAs and price for the service, key for successful adoption of cloud based computing.

Yahoo announced yesterday their own PaaS Y!Open platform based on OpenSocial APIs that is geared more towards targeting Social networking audience unlike Azure. This is more interesting to me as they will immediately be able to capture new developers and expand on their current echosystem.

But yes, Azure is offering more than what Google Apps Engine offers today. To me, it would be interesting to see what M$ offers around industry standard APIs like OpenSocial which is how they can attract more of the Next-gen developers building mashup services around their PaaS. They seem to have endorsed OpenSocial anyways.

Facebook has gone up from 27 million users to 140 million users after opening up their Facebook API to developers in the last one year with 40 thousand third party applications hosted on facebook. Now thats revolution. Its all about expanding the echosystem of your developers in this era of internet computing and thus monopolising the market/making yourself indispensible. Its all about the open APIs, rather than spinning your own proprietary API clouds like Azure. 

Web-scale and Cloud Computing open APIs is almost like the Open Source model which we have all come to love and thrive on. Stay tuned on my next blog on Open Web Identity leading to Identity platforms and Open Social Networks.

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alkagupta

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