Disclaimer: This post does not reflect the opinions, thoughts, strategies or future intentions of my employer. These are solely my personal opinions. If you are seeking official position statements from Microsoft, please go here.
Tim O'Reilly has an insightful post entitled OpenSocial: It's the data, stupid where he writes
My disappointment with OpenSocial was crystallized by an exchange between Patrick Chanezon, Google's developer advocate for the program, and an audience member at the OpenSocial session at Web 2.0 Expo Berlin.
Let's start with the first one. If all OpenSocial does is allow developers to port their applications more easily from one social network to another, that's a big win for the developer, as they get to shop their application to users of every participating social network. But it provides little incremental value to the user, the real target. We don't want to have the same application on multiple social networks. We want applications that can use data from multiple social networks.
Imagine what would have happened to Google maps if instead of supporting mashups, they had built a framework that allowed developers to create mapping applications across Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google as a way of competing with MapQuest. Boring! That's the equivalent of what they've announced here.
Given the amount of attention my last set of posts on this topic garnered I'm hesitant to write about OpenSocial again. I won't say much except to say that I'm glad to see that Tim O'Reilly gets it. At the end of the day, the most that can come from OpenSocial is that a bunch of sites are better able to create the kinds of walled gardens that Facebook has done. As an end user, this doesn't mean much to me since I'm already quite happy using my social networking site of choice. It's pretty naive to think that the fact that some social networking site can now host Vampires or Scrabulous will make it a game changing competitor to Facebook. It shows a complete misunderstanding of the dynamics of social software.
The folks at Google trumpeted this announcement with the phrase "The Web is the Platform". I don't think that phrase means what they think it means. If you fight the Web, you will lose. I completely agree with Mark Cuban that the interesting thing is now that I've built so much metadata about myself, my interests and my relationships into Facebook, it would be great to utilize that investment around the Web. And I don't just mean showing me targeted ads for G-Unit sneakers on Web sites I frequent because you know I friended 50 Cent.
C'mon Leah, you guys can do better than that. :)