Facebook's lack of involvement in Google's new OpenSocial developer initiative has left it out in the cold while big competitors like MySpace, Bebo and Friendster jump onboard.
OpenSocial is an initiative by Google that allows social networking sites such as MySpace and Bebo to share application program interfaces (APIs), giving third-party programmers the ability to build applications such as games, networking tools and other gizmos which utilise subscribers' personal data.
Vic Gundotra, head of Google's developer programs, told ZDNet's Australia sister site ZDNet.com: "[We] want to see it adopted by as many people as possible. We are talking to everyone."
According to the Between the Lines blog on ZDNet.com, Facebook still hasn't been briefed on OpenSocial. "When we have had a chance to understand the technology, then Facebook will evaluate participation relative to the benefits to its 50 million users and 100,000 platform developers," Facebook's head of corporate communications, Brandee Barker, said.
Regardless of whether it has been fully briefed, Facebook's hesitation to join OpenSocial is understandable. Its choice to open its site to outside developers in May this year gave it a huge advantage over competitor MySpace, which, despite still being the runaway leader in the market, has fallen behind in the publicity and innovation stakes. Currently, Facebook has its own unique API technology, meaning Facebook applications cannot be used elsewhere on the Web.
By becoming part of OpenSocial, Facebook will essentially nullify the lead its popular API system has given it over competitors by becoming part of the level playing field for APIs that OpenSocial creates. However, given the huge alliance that is building behind Google's OpenSocial, it may inevitably be forced to join.
Meanwhile, MySpace is delighted to add Google to its friends list, and Google shares the affection: "We're thrilled to grow our strategic relationship with MySpace by joining forces on this important initiative," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said.