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Google's OpenSocial Too Late To Be a Win?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the a-nice-way-to-have-a-chat dept.

Google 82

DeeQ writes with a link to a post on News.com's social networking blog. Author Caroline McCarthy wonders if Google's OpenSocial initiative has missed its moment in the sun. It's been something like six weeks now since the search giant offered up its open-source social media initiative ... but where have been the usual swift victories? Moreover, OpenSocial isn't done yet, and it's not expected until sometime next year. In the meantime Facebook is capitalizing on Google's delay, and other networks are stepping in as well. "Kraus adds that some of the independent platform strategies would be necessary even if OpenSocial were finalized. One of them is LinkedIn's 'InApps,' which also aims to spread LinkedIn's data and influence outside the business-oriented social network through partnerships with other Web sites. 'OpenSocial so far is really about how developers embed their application into a social network,' Kraus explained. 'A good chunk of LinkedIn's APIs is about how LinkedIn extends their social-networking data into other sites.'"

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French post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21700400)

Bonjour. Comment allez-vous? Je suis AC. Vous savez qui je suis. Je suis fichu il AC.

NOT GAY (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21700402)

FROSTY PISS

Re:NOT GAY (-1, Offtopic)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700604)

I might very well be gay. Want to find out?

social web sites (3, Informative)

boxlight (928484) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700434)

A year or so ago I started a myspace page just out of curiosity. I shut it down a couple months later because it really didn't do anything for me.

A couple months back I got a facebook account, and while it's more functional that the myspace page, the vast majority of the content I see there is silliness and spam. I find the applications and installation stuff a annoyance. It's also not very customizable appearance wise. Other than an occasional vacation photo from a friend I rarely see, there's not much there that helps me. I'm considering canceling that too.

What I'd really like is something like facebook that's pure communication function, and less gibberish and marketing. Actually, something like a web-based AOL could work -- email, chat rooms, IM, all built into one facebook-like web site. More elegant looking and customizable.

Is that what OpenSocial is? I have not tried it.

Re:social web sites (2, Funny)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700466)

A couple months back I got a facebook account, and while it's more functional that the myspace page, the vast majority of the content I see there is silliness and spam.


Are you talking about Facebook as compared to MySpace? Because there are a few 18 year old supermodels who friended me just to chat about a week ago.

Re:social web sites (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700492)

Just to chat? I got all these hot women moving to my area soon and they don't have any friends here. Just by random chance they found me on MySpace and are eager to meet with me. Man, I can't wait until they move in. Hot dog!

Re:social web sites (1)

Frantix (1043000) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704554)

I'm waiting to make my connection to my mail order bride on mySpace. I may end up having two.

Hi! (4, Funny)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700524)

Your slashdot comment looked really interesting to me and I'd like to meet you. See pics of me at www.mateo_lefou.com CYA

Re:social web sites (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700572)

There are two uses for typical social networks. The first is to promote your band, business or service. The other is to satisfy your ego and validate your existence by constant attention-whoring. Some people will say "I use it to keep in touch with people", but that's bullshit, because it's an idiotic substitute for the telephone, email or instant messaging. So claiming that all the hassle of getting, maintaining and monitoring a social network account just to keep in touch with a few people is like saying you only get Hustler and Club for the articles.

Re:social web sites (4, Informative)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700844)

There is a third use for them that is related to the "keeping in touch with people." The little apps in Facebook act as a mechanism for maintaining social interaction, and allow managed cross-involvement between groups of friends. In other words, I can have my brother (in Texas) join me (on the West Coast) and a colleague (in New York) over a game of Scrabble, and chat with each other. Because it aggregates all your "social attention" in one place, it isn't like trying to cobble interest in one of a million "online scrabble" sites.

And the "keep in touch" function isn't important for close friends: it's better for staying in touch with acquaintances and more distant friends, giving you a viable reason to drop a quick hello without the awkward "I know it's been years since we've chatted, but..." In the space between the deeply personal and the completely professional is a kind of sociability that is vital for many people's careers.

Re:social web sites (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21701012)

I get Hustler for the pictures of gaping, cavernous pousouir

Re:social web sites (1)

Is0m0rph (819726) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702376)

I do use it to keep in touch with friends. Idiotic or not. It's not bullshit, it's not a hassle, and you're wrong. Fuck off

Re:social web sites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21702430)

People past a certain age just aren't going to ever get it, in a similar way to boomers who can't use voicemail and who hunt the isles for answering machine tapes. Well, people past a certain age and a large percentage of the folks on sites like slashdot who only know two or three people and who don't travel much or at all.

Re:social web sites (1)

zecg (521666) | more than 6 years ago | (#21710184)

I like the idea of a social network. However:
a) I don't like their interface
b) I hate the idea that, on the open Internet, I am so disabled as to have my social network enabled by some corporation's single product
c) Their spying has gone over the top and I strongly dislike giving personal data to be used for advertising.

Re:social web sites (3, Informative)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702884)

You can make similar complaints about using ANY new technology to socialize.

Why text someone, when it's an idiotic substitute for an email? But why email them, when it's a lame substitute for calling them on the phone? Why call them on the phone, when you could just talk to the person face to face? And why on earth would you want to talk to the person, when you could socialize using old fashioned grunts and gestures, which worked perfectly well for our chimp-like ancestors?

I guarantee that in a few years, some new technology will come along and people will use it to socialize. And there will be people saying, "Why would I want to use that newfangled technology to communicate with my friends, when I can use an old-fashioned social networking site?"

Hustler and Club (0, Offtopic)

suggsjc (726146) | more than 6 years ago | (#21703478)

Wait, Hustler and Club have articles?

Re:social web sites (2, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21703792)

Your statement makes about as much sense as saying the only reason for having a Slashdot account is to satisfy your ego and validate your existence by constant attention-whoring. Who would go to all the hassle of getting, maintaining and monitoring a Slashdot account for any other reason? Look at you with your +5 by writing a trendy bashing of social networking, if that's not attention whoring?

Some people will say "I use it to keep in touch with people", but that's bullshit, because it's an idiotic substitute for the telephone, email or instant messaging.

Okay I'll bite: Why? Email is push rather than pull. Instant message requires everyone you want to address to be online at that moment, and telephone is even worse, being only one-on-one.

The pull rather than push is important - rather than me deciding who would want to read whatever I want to tell them, people I know can decide for themselves. In fact, it's email which is far more likely to represent ego satisfying, validation and attention whoring, in that you send out messages flooding people's inboxes, assuming they care about your petty life. Same with telephone and IM really.

It's sad really, I'd have thought that geeks would be willing to accept that some uses of technology may be more appropriate than others (even if it's not for them, it may be for others), rather than giving in to impressions of what's trendy and what isn't (what sort of technical criticism is "attention-whoring"? That's the sort of thing people take the piss out of MySpace for).

Re:social web sites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704310)

Your statement makes about as much sense as saying the only reason for having a Slashdot account is to satisfy your ego and validate your existence by constant attention-whoring

n00b.

Re:social web sites (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705406)

I think more to the point geeks prefer creating their own independent web site, rather than just having a tiny chunk of a corporate controlled and monitored web site (a social network). So the more accurate comparison is those who can roll their own or those that lack imagination, creativity and skill but still desire to create what they have been sold is ideal web impression of themselves.

So on a tech site, yeah expect the majority to look down on social network sites, where the jock straps and cheerleaders congregate, the sub 100s, eww ;).

So who said, /. wasn't a place where geeks could go to 'satisfy their ego and validate their existence' by fencing with words and the active exchange of thoughts and ideas, but let's be rational, it certainly does not compare with the mindless palp that is exchanged on the typical corporate marketdroid social network.

Back on topic, as for google winning, shit if they were at all capable of winning beyond search, why the hell would they keep buying companies in market segments that they are basically failing in. So orkut is losing, and now google wants to jump in and be the privacy invasive, add spewing, middle man connecting other social networks.

Re:social web sites (3, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704076)

The first is to promote your band, business or service.
...
Some people will say "I use it to keep in touch with people"

The third use is to keep in touch with bands; the flipside of the first use. You gotta be there, to get promoted to. MySpace is a pretty good way to stay on top of when/where your favorite local bands are playing.

Of course, once you start doing that, you also get to satisfy your ego and validate your existence with attention whoring. ;-)

There's not much hassle with maintaining/monitoring, though. MySpace has atrocious usability, but people tend to learn to adapt to even the worst interfaces. (Ever watch someone copy a file on MS Windows with cut/paste?)

Re:social web sites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21704398)

i just moved to a new city and found an indoor soccer team thanks to facebook. which of your two categories does that fall into? with facebook i saw one of my friends had joined a group for people in the league, i joined the group, i posted on the wall to ask if anyone wanted to start a team or needed a player, i joined a team. how exactly would i have gone about that more easily without facebook?
people that think facebook is useless think so because they aren't in the same position as high school and college students or recent grads. most of the people i'm good friends with live in a different city, and facebook makes it easy to keep up with them. This may seem strange but there are people that I want to hear how they're doing but don't want to talk on the phone with all the time. And when I meet new people, facebook solidifies a bond that makes it much easier to talk to them in the future. Think about it next time you meet someone. Which is more likely, you exchanged phone numbers so next time they're having a party they call you and invite you, or you friended each other on facebook so next time they're having a party they invite you to the event on facebook in a bulk invite. Or say you want to go to a concert but not alone, it's unlikely you'll have talked to everyone you know enough to know which bands they like, but if you log onto facebook you can get a good idea and invite someone you would never call and ask out of the blue. I'm sorry but for people with actual social lives that involve meeting new people, facebook is useful.

Re:social web sites (1)

Smauler (915644) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707044)

Why the hell is this modded insightful? Clearly the parent is talking out of their arse. I'm not massively into social networking site, but I do have a facebook account. Last week I went to a friend's birthday party, and now photos are up on facebook of that party. There are no better tools for this kind of thing. It's not about ego, or spamming, or anything like that, it's just about keeping in touch with friends and sharing stuff. I have spent, in my entire life, about 1/2 an hour "getting, maintaining and monitoring" my facebook account. Get a brain, moran.

Re:social web sites (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700896)

Welcome to The Latest Fad (c)(tm) on the Internet.

The trick is to figure out what the next one will be and make some good $$$$ off of it.

Re:social web sites (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21701416)

Welcome to The Latest Fad (c)(tm) on the Internet.
I think this may inadvertently be the most insightful comment on this issue.

One thing we know for sure is that the people who use the social networks are not the kind of people who are afraid to change. No matter how successful Facebook has become by the time Google gets its act together, if Google comes up with some social networking tool that is really well-designed, fun and cool, and it isn't too obnoxious in the way it uses advertising and corporate boosterism, people will flock to it, leaving Facebook in the dust.

Unfortunately for Facebook (or more precisely - to whoever buys Facebook) the type of people who have made them successful are not the type of people who are going to stay with them out of loyalty if their needs aren't being met.

Call it a "fad" if you want to, but it's a matter of "Live by the Free Market, die by the Free Market." Ultimately, these outfits' need for continual growth, and growth in the rate of growth, is what's going to kill them the same way it's killing the credit/banking business. They based their very survival on the notion that everything (prices, demand, incomes, home values, etc etc) will just trend upward forever, and they leveraged themselves to an amazing extent based on this very flimsy - nay, illogical - notion. And the ugly result of this orgy of greed has barely begun. People tend to forget what happens to the fattest hogs.

Re:social web sites (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702316)

if Google comes up with some social networking tool that is really well-designed, fun and cool, and it isn't too obnoxious in the way it uses advertising and corporate boosterism...
Well, that is definitely something that spacebook and myspace haven't tried yet.

Re:social web sites (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21703864)

One thing we know for sure is that the people who use the social networks are not the kind of people who are afraid to change. ...

Unfortunately for Facebook (or more precisely - to whoever buys Facebook) the type of people who have made them successful are not the type of people who are going to stay with them out of loyalty if their needs aren't being met.


I'm not sure what evidence this is based on? On the contrary, to some degree people are locked in, in that you need an account to access all your friends' content, and a new site is only worth as much as who you know is on it.

I don't think I've seen any less loyalty on them than people have with any other site. LiveJournal even sells "permanent accounts" for $150, so there are people coughing up money for a long term commitment, more so than any other website I've seen.

Re:social web sites (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707600)

LiveJournal even sells "permanent accounts" for $150, so there are people coughing up money for a long term commitment
Just because LiveJournal sells something doesn't mean people are buying.

Wait a minute... did you...? I'm sorry (*cough*).

Re:social web sites (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21707914)

Just because LiveJournal sells something doesn't mean people are buying.

Wait a minute... did you...? I'm sorry (*cough*).


Not me, but people do buy. I don't think there are any official figures, but http://news.livejournal.com/100876.html [livejournal.com] suggests that the number of permanent accounts sold last time has a lower bound of 1040.

Re:social web sites (1)

friend.ac (1071626) | more than 6 years ago | (#21701460)

Thats exactly why I got sick of Facebook and Myspace and started http://friendsite.com/ [friendsite.com] ... boxlight and anyone else, I would appreciate any feedback you have!

Open Social means universal API format (1)

nobodymk2 (1137293) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702226)

All Open Social is is a universal API format that can to code widgets and the like across Myspace, and all the other "I've never heard of these". In no way does it connect these sites, so I really don't see the purpose if I don't even know the names of half the sites it works on!

We may be developing what you want... (1)

Wonderkid (541329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21703770)

...fill in the form at owonder.com/contact [owonder.com] and if and when our service goes live, we will let you know.

Re:social web sites (1)

neapolitan (1100101) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704772)

>I got a facebook account... there's not much there that helps me. I'm considering canceling that too.

Good luck! It is impossible to delete a facebook account. [wikipedia.org]

From the link:
The website only gives users the option of "deactivating." However, once an account has been deactivated, all the personal information of users remain on Facebook's servers in case in the future they wish to reactivate. The website provides no means for users to permanently delete their account.

This, to me, is reason enough to not use the site.

Re:social web sites (1)

arendjr (673589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21708424)

Maybe you want to take a look at Hyves (www.hyves.nl). It has all those things you like (the elegant looking part may be debatable, but it's sure nicely customizable while not as messy as MySpace). Truth is though, there are mostly Dutch people around there :)

To the Man in the Motorized Wheelchair (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21700474)

You have restored my faith in humanity.

Lamentably, I work in the Lloyd District, and the largest assortment of food offerings in one place is, in fact, that true testament to the Portland Ghetto zeitgeist, The Lloyd Centre Mall. As I was walking toward the down escalator near the cinemas, having procured my foodstuffs, I noted a group of kids in front of me that should, undoubtedly, have been sitting in class in their middle school and were probably reveling in their shared truancy. As they walked, you came zipping around into their path in a motorized wheelchair like the place was the Portland International Raceway.

The quartet of young punks either did not notice or did not care enough to cede the right of way. That did not seem to phase you. No--you plowed right into the middle of them slammed to a stop, and grouchily shouted something akin to, 'Jesus Christ! Move, motherfucker!' out of your toothless maw.

I assure you that the profanity was utterly delicious.

Then you shoved down on that chair's joystick and took off at a speed that indicated that the world had damned well better move for you.

The kids looked on in disbelief. I think on some level they were too flabbergasted to be offended.

Is it wrong that the cockles of my dark little heart just warmed at you schooling those young punks? And is it wrong that I then thought of myself in my old age shouting at kids to get off my lawn? There is hope. There are young punks a-plenty, and it is my most fervent wish that I get to plow down as many as my heart desires when I'm flying around the mall, my colostomy bag blazing like a standard.

Sir, I salute you. Huzzah!

Needs to find its niche (4, Insightful)

Cleon (471197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700536)

The thing is, all of these social networking sites have a certain focus and niche.

Facebook, which started out as something for college students, is still generally focused on that particular market. Moreover, unlike MySpace, it's rather strictly controlled; you can really only search for friends in your particular networks. Plus, the inclusion (and encouragement) of user-created applications gives FaceBook a level of functionality that other networking sites lack.

LinkedIn is specifically targeted for professional, rather than social, networking.

MySpace seems to be aiming itself more at media integration, organization/campaign building, musicians, that sort of thing. (IOW, more "commercial" than the other two, if that makes any sense.)

For it to work, OpenSocial has to find its focus--it needs something to separate it from the other social networking sites beyond merely being a Google project. If it doesn't, it's just going to go the way of Friendster--it'll be out there, but nobody will really be using it.

Re:Needs to find its niche (3, Informative)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700594)

OpenSocial has to find its focus--it needs something to separate it from the other social networking sites beyond merely being a Google project.
OpenSocial is an API, not a site. All the existing sites you mentioned, could use OpenSocial if they wanted to.

Re:Needs to find its niche (1)

tieTYT (989034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21744508)

All the existing sites you mentioned, could use OpenSocial if they wanted to.

But why would they want to? Why would Facebook want you to use MySpace apps? I think Facebook would prefer its users to be oblivious to the existence of myspace. Why would Facebook want to make the difference between myspace and itself negligible? It wouldn't. Otherwise, who would care about which social network you use? How is that attitude beneficial to a Social Network that's already one of the big players?

I think what's going to happen is 1) nobody will use OpenSocial except the up-and-comers or 2) the big players will "use" it but constantly add/remove features to it that makes it more useful for them and breaks compatibility. And regardless, the second google comes out with version 2.0, there's going to be some sites that upgrade and some that don't (or upgrade slower). Those that want their OpenSocial apps to work on as many sites as possible will need to code to the lowest common denominator. It'll be just like writing CSS for browsers.

Re:Needs to find its niche (4, Informative)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700672)

For it to work, OpenSocial has to find its focus--it needs something to separate it from the other social networking sites beyond merely being a Google project. If it doesn't, it's just going to go the way of Friendster--it'll be out there, but nobody will really be using it.
I think you're really missing the point. Google wants all these different networks, that have different niches, to have access to each other. So now I'll still have a facebook for friends at school, a myspace for my band, and a flickr for photos, but I won't need to upload all my photos to EVERY website using they're own implementation of photos.

There will still be different niches, but I'll be able to manage each of my different "personalities" (if you will) from one place.

Re:Needs to find its niche (2, Informative)

fczuardi (574719) | more than 6 years ago | (#21701146)

...that is also what OpenSocial is not. OpenSocial is a set of standard methods and libraries for app developers to ask one particular social network for information. It is a way to provide compatibility for social networks addons, not a place or central place for anything.

Re:Needs to find its niche (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702832)

Yes, finally someone here seems to get this. All of the Social Networking sites are useless to some and essential to others. It depends on your interests and needs as to which works for you. None of them are perfect.

For myself working in film and media -- Myspace is a great tool for networking. It's great for finding new writers, actors, editors, composers etc, locally and all over the world. It's a really great tool for this. In contrast, Facebook is totally worthless to me. I can't network on it if I can't see people's area of interest, examples of their work, or skills -- no-one I was at University with is on it. I tried it, I have a page on it, and I've looked at it twice in a year, I've no reason to ever go back there. However, for others -- possibly many of you on Slashdot -- the opposite is true.

All of these sites are now beginning to mature beyond the initial butterfly teenage fashion crowd who first adopted them -- fortunately. Now they are actually becoming useful.

The concept of OpenSocial -- the ability to have a common interface and protocol to go between the sites really makes sense. It's a real shame that Facebook and some others are being elitist (and greedy, in the proprietary way) about it. That isn't something Slashdot, with its general community preference for OSS, should be encouraging.

Facebook isn't anyone's friend -- as the protests every other week about yet another minor change on the site prove conclusively. OpenSocial is a good thing -- something that the Slashdot community should be encouraging.

Re:Needs to find its niche (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21706194)

What I think is interesting is how the cultures of different social network sites are themselves reflections of different strata of contemporary society itself: MySpace is generally the working class/lower-middle class/high school space (plus musicians); Facebook is middle class/collegiate (and one that most academics seem to prefer) while LinkedIn is for higher-end professionals. They have different aesthetics, just like Chez Panisse and the French Laundry have a different aesthetic from an Olive Garden, which has a different aesthetic from a Denny's. Even the applications at each site suggest different modes of thinking about the world, different values and different ideas of what makes your identity (is it what you do? what you buy, listen to? what you read? what your tastes are? etc.)

people will be switching for another couple years (2, Interesting)

justdrew (706141) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700540)

consolidation and settling in haven't started yet, google has plenty of time, if they come out with good stuff, it'll peel people away from the others no problem. Also, there's still a lot of people who haven't wadded in to the whole thing yet...

Thank their culture. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700602)

Also, there's still a lot of people who haven't wadded in to the whole thing yet...
Well, Google didn't help by being exclusivist in the first time around with Orkut.

Not too late (2, Insightful)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700574)

Nothings too late in this era. We don't even have a clear current winner. Depending on demographics, some sites are stronger than others. Also as we can see with Facebook, any public screwups can quickly change things. If Facebook hadn't reacted as fast and strongly to allay people fears regarding privacy alot of legitimate users would have migrated elsewhere. I've signed up on Myspace and Facebook but since I've a bad habit of not providing personal information to strangers these services don't really appeal to me. But from what I saw there's really nothing one has that the other couldn't implement.

Re:Not too late (3, Insightful)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700606)

There's not going to be a clear winner : several social networking websites will co-exist, because the value of a network depends both of who's in it and who's not.

Re:Not too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21702140)

Could explain that? The value of a search engine also depends on who's in it and who's not, but we seem to have a clear winner for the time being.

I would say the value of a network is being able to control who's in your "friends" list, not who's allowed to sign up or not, which is what it kind of sounds like you're saying. And that doesn't preclude a monopoly.

Re:Not too late (1)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702622)

A given individual will put value both on the fact that certain people see the material that you put about yourself online, and you also put value on the fact that certain other people are not allowed to see that material. The most simple example is the work life/private life separation, but in general many people see themselves as different personnalities (family life, social life, hobby life, professional life, love life) that are only overlapping in a carefully controlled manner. If there would be only one dominant social network, that would be impossible.

Re:Not too late (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702708)

I fail to see how not providing personal information to strangers is a bad habit.

Worried about Google investors (4, Interesting)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700576)

Google is a great company filled with brilliant people like maybe no company has ever been. But there's something I never understood about it : how do they actually plan to lock in their position ?

They do many things very well, but I don't see any of their major services from which you cannot switch to a competitor on a whim. Let's be honest : for 99% of searches, several other search engines will give you results that are at least as relevant or useful as Google's. Even if objectively you would find any google service to be slightly superior than its counterpart, there really is barely any friction from switching if you don't like their name anymore or if you feel like giving a chance to a competitor. They don't even have any notable "network effect" assets like eBay, Paypal, Facebook, Amazon Marketplace and recommendations, the IMDB, etc.

Re:Worried about Google investors (4, Informative)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700718)

how do they actually plan to lock in their position ?
One and a half ways, as far as I can tell:
  1. If they can get multiple (popular) sites to use the same API, so that add-on developers only have to write one version of the code, then that creates a feedback loop. It makes site developers want to use the API in order to take advantage of existing add-ons, and it makes add-on developers want to use the API to take advantage of existing sites.
  2. The API is sold to the public as being for developers. But one of the things I quickly noticed about it, is that it's good for more than that. It's also great for crawlers. Why crawl a site and try to make sense out of their HTML structure, when there's an API call to get someone's friends list? If sites adopt this API, it will allow Google (not really lock-in; any other crawler could do it too) to make semantic sense of "social" websites, which happen to be popular. Maybe some day you'll be able to google "friends:El Cabri" and get all sorts of ideas for ways the info could be [ab]used. Crawling is part of Google's business anyway (they're a/the leader) so this could strengthen them.

Re:Worried about Google investors (2, Insightful)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700752)

That's a main reason why I hesitate to invest in Google stock. I see a lot of potential but then I also see a lot of alternatives to what Google offers. Strictly judging Google as a business I cannot predict the course they are going to take. They are full of brilliant people and should be churning out alot of great stuff, but if you think about it a lot of the succesful stuff they have have been bought not made inhouse.

Re:Worried about Google investors (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700782)

Yeah, what's the point of even being in business if you have to compete fairly instead of locking people in?

I'd argue that most products and services are not natural monopolies; otherwise, capitalism would not work and no country would use it. Microsoft's position is great if you happen to be Bill Gates, but it's a drag on everybody else in every other industry (why do people outside slashdot fail to recognize that?)

Google better thank their lucky stars there's no search lock-in, because otherwise google could never have displaced altavista, yahoo, microsoft, and everybody else who came along before google. At the same time, google better stay on its toes.

Re:Worried about Google investors (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700812)

Google is a great company filled with brilliant people like maybe no company has ever been.

I don't believe that for a second (Bell Labs, for example? Toyota, Lockheed, Merck, IBM, Philips, Sony, Xerox...?) but wouldn't it be sad if it were true? They should come over here and develop new drugs; I'll be glad to cover making Web 2.0 apps that never get out of beta.

Re:Worried about Google investors (2, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700818)

Google's "network effect asset" is called the Internet.

Remember, like television, their customer isn't you, it's the advertiser.

Re:Worried about Google investors (2, Interesting)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700968)

In the beginning Google was attractive to me, (and most people I know), because it was "clean." No annoying graphics, just a simple text box, that produced very readable, very good results, with advertising that was textual, and not a eppilepsy enducing "you won a playstation" flashing banner.

Their search products such as Image Search, Froogle, News, etc... all did the same thing... clean UI, easy to use, good results.

For their applications, I think people moved to Gmail because again, the clean UI, they already used Google, and the space was unprecidented. Most ISPs still had 30MB caps, as did most other freemail services. For their other applications, I think it is a combination of brand recognition (like my Aunt, who thinks Yahoo "is" the Internet), Google fanboi-ism, and the assumption that everything they do will turn into gold, and they they won't fold overnight like a lot of services have the potential to do.

With all this stream, its enough to drive advertisement revenue. The difficulty will be if that dries up, and they have pissed off investors, thousands of employees with their hands in all kinds of stuff, trying to find a way to support the massive infrastructure. I think that is why they are looking to diversify their income paths because they know they won't be the hip kid on the block forever.

Re:Worried about Google investors (1)

Mistshadow2k4 (748958) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704462)

Most ISPs still had 30MB caps, as did most other freemail services.

Dude, who was your ISP then? And what freemail services were these? I remember those days well. All the ISPs I'd tried had a 6 - 10 MB limit. Freemail providers were dropping rapidly; yahoo had dropped new accounts from 6 to 4 MB, and hotmail was down to a pitiful 2 MB. At the time, the amount of space gmail was offering was unbelievable. No one else was doing anything like it, and it took more than a year for others like yahoo to catch up.

Re:Worried about Google investors (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21701252)

Google makes money by selling ads and stock.
Ads are annoying at best.
Stock is speculative.

Google's stock will start to fall (Google has been remarkably overpriced for a remarkably long time), investors will want to maximize profits, and they will cash out. Unless people invested in a .com for the long term, of course (insert lulz here).

Once this happens, Google will either fail spectacularly, or the company will start acting like, I don't know, a company.
Suddenly employees won't be getting free massages, day care, or any other of the cool, hip, free thinking perks they enjoy.
Google will have to have a product or service to sell that hasn't reached it's saturation point (i.e., advertisement on the web), and they will have to sell it to people.

Google had a great opportunity to leverage (marketing speak!!) it's brand, and it missed out. It dreamt up some cool ideas, but didn't produce anything people were willing to pay for.

Re:Worried about Google investors (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21701734)

Google is a great company filled with brilliant people like maybe no company has ever been.
You overstate their "brilliance". It is mostly exclusivity and secrecy that makes it look like there's openness that is not there.

But there's something I never understood about it : how do they actually plan to lock in their position ?
Multiple class shares. You put money in, you get no decision out. One opinion, one voice, one leader. Otherwise people would be able to steer Google away from bad moves such as China.

Re:Worried about Google investors (2, Interesting)

slashdot_commentator (444053) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702656)

In addition to sloppy's excellent points,

1) Google counts on the same psychological effect that the entire advertising industry counts on to keep people consuming its product: branding. The average human beings' tendency is to stick with what is familiar. They were able to provide a search engine service (at the time) markedly superior to what was available (Yahoo, Altavista, & Hotbot), so now people go to them for searches, rather than some place else. Its the same with McDonald's, Charmin, and Starbucks. They count on human nature for "lock-in". If they get complacent, like GM, Hoover, or Wang, someone new will come along, that will offer something better, and new guy will become the next Google.

2) While I think Google have magnitudes of technological opportunity to improve its search product, the company, in its own way, is looking to "win". Google doesn't need to plow tons of resources and attention into its search/advertising engine (to stay alive). They prioritize looking for the next undiscovered thing that will knock them a industry home run.

Take the SEO biz. There are guys that will (relatively) openly talk about what they do, or how they approach ways to increase their link count. Besides it making money for them (in page hits), they don't try to be proprietary with their techniques, because they know "winning" means coming up with some new way of getting ahead. They believe in their talent (to think of new ways of getting ahead). Its like A-Rod giving away batting tips. He can afford to do so, because it doesn't matter that competitors have the information; its still not going to help them outperform A-Rod. (In the case of SEO guys, it helps them to reveal stuff; it increases their page traffic.)

That's what makes Google so scary to companies like Microsoft. Neither of them even care about maintaining their dominance in their niches, they're looking for the next great thing that will make them billions. And Google has an advantage in talent, and can leave Microsoft in the rear view.

Being the ubermonopoly, having the marketing highground, means you can ensure your continued prosperity, even with egregious gaffes. Being ahead means being to dictate the rules to the game. If you're in the rear view, you're reduced to reacting. Any chess player should understand this concept.

3) In the case of opensocial, as sloppy pointed out, its a means of improving its search and advertising product. So Google invested into it. If Google get to define the popularly accepted API, they can control how the next technology gets implemented (and monetized). Google thinks it can put out a superior product to what is currently available, so it is now making the attempt. If they're right, then developers and users will go to it, because it offers them something Google's competitors don't.

I hope you can see now that "lock-in" is an outdated concept in the technology business world. The game is about creating/defining the next moneymaker.

Just No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21700608)

Too late? That would mean that people are brand loyal. They [facebook.com] aren't [myspace.com] .

poor API (1)

Kristoph (242780) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700658)

I looked at the OpenSocial API. I think any Google initiative has some potential. However, this API is such a mess, really a hodgepodge of cruft, mainly from Orkut, that it won't go anywhere not because it's too late but simply because it's so ill considered.

If they created a well thought out API it would get much more traction.

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Of course it isn't too late (2, Insightful)

kingduct (144865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700682)

Dude(tte)s,

As someone who has used facebook a bit, I can say it sucks! There are tons of opportunties to make something better (or worse, depending on your point of view), and Google is one company trying to do so.

Was Google too late when it started its search engine years after the first engines? Was gmail too late because Rocketmail was first? Was wikipedia too late, because Brittanica was already there? For that matter, was Facebook too late, because email had already existed for decades?

If a tool comes up that is a lot better, it has the chance to succeed. Since Facebook is so crappy, we should expect that in the short term (next year) either it will get a lot better or there will probably be something that takes its place in the sun. I have no opinion as to whether that will be opensocial or something else (let us not forget that the thing that gets everyone's attention next year may very well be an economic depression that puts the dotcom bust to shame).

"Nothing's over to we say it's over" (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702080)

"Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell No!

Where was Facebook three years ago? Nowhere, that's where! The next social networking site will work different, it will be called... well, when I finish it I'll tell ya.

Yeah... as always (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700810)

Too Late To Be A Win?
Yeah, I guess time has always counted, like with IBM and the personal computers, or MS Windows and the graphical operating systems, or iPod and the portable media players, or Google and search engines (yes, there was altavista, excite and yahoo before google) or Xbox and video game consoles or...

geez, you get the idea.

Re:Yeah... as always (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21701786)

The difference is they aren't offering a new product, they're taking the current state of social networks and saying "hey, support this API!" Honestly, Facebook and Myspace are probably getting to the end of their lives soon, and something different will be born. What Google has done with OpenSocial is like somebody releasing a "revolutionary" VHS player in mid 1997.

Does anybody else see the big social networking sites going through the same things that the web did in general when it was first gaining traction? Butt nasty, clashing, animated pages with no substance followed by a sudden realization of some useless but novel functionality and then everybody wants to mimmick it. How many friends you have is the new hit counter. Facebook applications are the new java applets that everybody wanted to drop on their Geocities webpage.

The computer savvy already got most of this out of their system, but now the ability to create on the web has been given to the people who weren't interested in putting the time to learn HTML and javascript back in the day. They want to show off their skills the same way people used to in the mid to late 90's. It is only a matter of time before the web grows up again and you will find that most of what OpenSocial offers won't be needed.

Of course I could just be stubborn and refusing to see something in social networks that everybody else does. That is entirely possible.

Re:Yeah... as always (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#21704350)

? Butt nasty, clashing, animated pages with no substance followed by a sudden realization of some useless but novel functionality and then everybody wants to mimmick

Geocities called from 1995, they wanted their web sites back

Bias? (3, Insightful)

lixee (863589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700864)

News.com is Murdoch-domain if I'm not mistaken. Can someone remind me of who owns MySpace?

Re:Bias? (2, Funny)

prostoalex (308614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21701916)

if I'm not mistaken

That's a big if. Perhaps they should stick a 121st CNET logo/reference somewhere on the page, since it's so easy to miss.

Re:Bias? (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21703076)

Even if Murdoch did own News.com, the article would be for OpenSocial of it were biased, as MySpace is a partner [google.com] .

Quote of the year (in hell) from the story... (2, Informative)

tyroneking (258793) | more than 6 years ago | (#21700954)

"There's a riff that OpenSocial could die on the vine," said Forrester Research senior analyst Jeremiah Owyang

Riff? Die on the vine?

Compare to Facebook's (4, Informative)

aftk2 (556992) | more than 6 years ago | (#21701004)

I don't know - I was skeptical about Facebook's API when I learned that our company would be developing apps for its platform. But it's actually pretty impressive. You have several different views and footprints at your application's disposal, a number of different ways to promote your app, an easy route to making your application interactive (FBML) as well as more advanced methods (FQL, the web service API).

Contrast that with OpenSocial. I recently wrote a white paper on it, which I wouldn't mind getting feedback on. It should make OpenSocial's strengths (and its significant weaknesses) pretty apparent:

A First Look at OpenSocial [concretewebsites.com]
Answering Questions About Google's Effort at Standardizing Social Network Widgets, and the Creation of Your First OpenSocial Widget .

Google is right on time (2, Insightful)

laudunum (585188) | more than 6 years ago | (#21701256)

It seems to me that Google is right on time: the time in the sun for social networks seems to be about up. Call it a land rush; call it a bubble; call it a craze. The social networks like FaceBook, MySpace, and the social network apps like Digg enjoyed a moment in the sun as the fleshed out one dimension of the webbernet that hadn't really been fully articulated. Now that it has, you're seeing a lot of the ideas articulated by those sites rolled into more mature, more complex, and more interesting sites and services. Of course, community for the sake of community was something I always thought was best done face to face, sitting next to someone on a barstool or at a coffee shop. Me, if I am going to look for community on the web, which is really more like what we used to call "association" (that is, a gathering of like-minded individuals), I'm going to look for sites that possess the traits I'm interested in. Like SlashDot or ArsTechnica et cetera.

LinkedIn doesn't need this. (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21701262)

I don't want my LinkedIn profile on other sites. All I'll get is spam.

LinkedIn has a problem with "LinkedIn Open Networkers", i.e. spammers, who just use LinkedIn to troll for contacts. Since LinkedIn doesn't have forums, they troll by using the "LinkedIn Answers" feature to ask bogus "questions". Much more of that and the question-answering system will be useless.

Swift victories? (1)

Jumphard (1079023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702302)

From summary, "where have been the usual swift victories?". Gmail is still in Beta. It's taken years and years to get a customer base and most peons I know still use Hotmail. Google Search itself took a long time to catch on after being late comer in the Yahoo, MSN, AskJeeves.com, crowded marketplace. Sometimes first-to-market is a good strategy, but in other times simply good software wins out in the end. That said, I have no experience with OpenSocial, but this seems to be someone saying, "1,000,000 people didn't subscribe in the first day!? It's a failure!1!"

What victories? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21702646)

From the summary:

It's been something like six weeks now since the search giant offered up it's open-source social media initiative ... but where have been the usual swift victories?

Huh? What swift victories? It took Google Search years to reach the top. Google Mail still isn't dominant, not even close, etc... etc... Googles only real victories are AdWords, Search, and Maps. Their other 'victories' come from buying existing lines of business (Blogger, YouTube) or from having no real competitors (Docs).
 
Fact is, when it comes to social networking, Google blew it with Orkut - and then waited far too long to fix the problems there, or to try again elsewhere. But that isn't really untypical of Google - they seem awfully unfocused. For as many people as they hire, updates seem to come pretty far apart and scattershot.

Re:What victories? (1)

jbjones (956386) | more than 6 years ago | (#21703204)

"...updates seem to come pretty far apart and scattershot" Must be all those massages and conferences that their employees attend. Everyone spends half their time brain storming rather than implementing. I'm not saying that's a bad thing if the company can afford it. It's better than Microsoft's copy everyone else mentality. And as for the concept of locking in your customers, that's one reason I use gmail instead of hotmail/live/msn. I've setup a few new small company websites where the owners were using personal accounts under hotmail, gmail or some local ISP. But with hotmail you can't forward the mail out to a new company email address. Most other systems don't have this restriction. So you can either forward or setup a POP checker to pull it all together. So it's actually Google's lack of strong-hold policy that keeps me with them as much as possible and causes me to avoid Microsoft whenever possible.

OraleSocial (1)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21703768)

What kind of a retarded, boring name is OpenSocial? No wonder it isn't winning anybody's heart. The darn thing has a name that only a mother could love.

Never too late to introduce a new paradigm... (1)

Wonderkid (541329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21703866)

Mosaic > Netscape > AOL > Explorer > Firefox/Safari/Opera > ? Classmates.com > Friendster > Friends Reunited (UK) > Bebo/MySpace/Facebook > ? Altavista > Excite > Ask > Yahoo > Google > ? And maybe something new that replaces all the above? Leading to... ? > ? > ? > ? :-)

usual swift victories? (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21705634)

A lot of Google's projects have been steady gainers rather than swift victories. OpenSocial clearly has a tough road ahead, but I wouldn't count it out just because it's off to a slow start; that's simply to be expected for this kind of project.

Google failures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21707490)

What victories? Everything google has done (except google search) is a miserable failure. They try to write great software, yet some kids always beat them. They give out closed source Picasa, nobody uses it. Gmail is fun because of 2GB storage. I won't even get in to knol, opensocial, google-flickr, blogger, GOHP, GWT, patronizing open source, etc.

But there is an answer for this. Google is afraid that somebody else is going to take over their search engine. So instead of setting up their defence, they start first to attack. They go after every possible software/service/trend out there. In order to distract people and keep them away from google search & the data mining facilities sold to FBI.
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