LinkedIn invites users to develop apps

Businesses will be able to build applications for use within the LinkedIn community, and add features to their own websites

Professional social-networking site LinkedIn is to open up its network and let third parties build applications for use within its community.

But, unlike Facebook, LinkedIn's Intelligent Application Platform will also allow companies to add LinkedIn features to their own websites.

The first organisation confirmed to be developing an application is the magazine BusinessWeek, which will integrate LinkedIn onto its news website, allowing people to find out more about individuals or companies mentioned in articles.

LinkedIn announced it was developing an application programming interface (API) and platform strategy through its Open Social programme back in June.

Liz O'Donnell, international director of LinkedIn, told "What's different about this, if you compare it to Facebook, is the BusinessWeek example in which people can basically take their LinkedIn network off the LinkedIn website. As you're doing things you do in your daily professional life, such as reading news, you'll be able to take the value of the LinkedIn network with you on that site."

LinkedIn said a number of other companies across a broad range of industry sectors have also expressed an interest in developing their own applications and more partners are expected to be announced soon.

On the official LinkedIn blog, Lucian Beebe, director of product management, explained that the platform will provide developers with a huge and receptive audience for business-focused applications.

LinkedIn now has 17 million members and is gaining an additional one million new members per month.