Monday Jun 09, 2008

OpenSocial

"Many sites, one API", says Google.  For those that don't know, OpenSocial is an exciting new set of APIs for social software applications. It aims to provide a unified mechanism for accessing core data and functions on any networking site that implements the OpenSocial SPI, which will hopefully soon be the universal standard.  This is revolutionary because now instead of having to write five different versions of the same app, social network developers can just focus on making one high-quality, cross-platform app.  The project is an open-source, Google-born collaboration that is based on XML, Javascript, and the powerful Google Data APIs.  OpenSocial apps can also leverage much of the Google Gadgets infrastructure. 

This is a gift from heaven for vendors such as iLike, giving access to much broader network of potential users.  Many social network giants such as hi5, MySpace, and LinkedIn have already implemented the OpenSocial standards, and many others are in the process.  You will not see Facebook on the list however.  They have taken the Microsoft approach with their Facebook Platform, defining and supporting only their own proprietary API. 

As the browser and desktop grow closer together, people begin to speculate about the race to a "web operating system", a common virtual desktop that would be the crown of distributed network computing.  While there are products out there that literally emulate a desktop, Google is the undeniable leader and innovator in this space (that is, redefining the relationship between the desktop and the browser); they've closed the gap considerably with tools like Google Gears, Google Apps, GWT, and now, OpenSocial

Sun is well aware of the world's social media trends, and as Jonathan notes in his blog, nearly half the world's population resides in the developing countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Africa (BRICA).  These are the economies most embracing of open source software and standards, and represent a fast-growing sector for technology firms.  From the business model perspective, these are the next several million people that social networks and content developers will try to reach.  Look for OpenSocial to be the foundation for much of that movement.

About

Trevor Thompson
Identity Management
Sun Microsystems

Interests: Software Architecture, Disruptive Technology, IT & Business Strategy, Investing

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