When Google announced "OpenSocial", a set of three common APIs designed to create an alternative developer platform to that offered by Facebook, I described it as a 'combine and conquer strategy'.
[OpenSocial] embraces the “small pieces, loosely joined” philosophy of the web, and in doing so, should help to re-balance third-party developer efforts away from Facebook’s proprietary platform, and back towards the web as the platform.
With a lineup of supporting partners including Orkut, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Ning, Hi5, Plaxo, Friendster, and (at the eleventh hour) MySpace, how would Facebook respond? The common answer offered by analysts and pundit bloggers alike, including myself, was that Facebook would either be forced to join "OpenSocial" or continue to go-it-alone.
Sometimes in life you need to look at something inside-out not outside-in.
Facebook have announced that they are going to license their APIs and proprietary markup language to other social web sites - the first of which is Bebo.
At their own launch announcement yesterday, Bebo CEO Michael Birch said that the company has chosen to license FB's platform as they didn't want to add to a format war. In time the company will also add support for "Open Social".
When OpenSocial (which has yet to launch in full) is ready and stable, Birch said, Bebo will add those APIs to its developer arsenal, too. "OpenSocial and the Facebook Platform are clearly different platforms," he said, then added jokingly, "Our lazy development team said they couldn't do both at once."
Joking apart, it does make you wonder if it's really necessary to support both. Why not just use Facebook's system which already exists and is incredibly well supported. If more sites join Bebo in licensing Facebook's code, then Facebook really will have outmaneuvered Google.