In The Crosshairs: Facebook

Post ImageThe tech industry really amazes me sometimes. Everyone knows that it moves fast, but I don’t think the average person realizes just how fast. The status quo can change overnight. I’m guessing Facebook knows this better than anyone or any company right now:

Google may have just come out of nowhere and checkmated Facebook in the social networking power struggle. MySpace and Six Apart will announce that they are joining Google’s OpenSocial initiative.

Here’s the big question – Will Facebook now be forced to join OpenSocial? Google says they are talking to “everyone.” This is a major strategic decision for Facebook, and they may have little choice but to join this coalition.

Essentially what Google is trying to do is make something like Facebook’s Platform available across the entire web. If you build an application for Facebook today, it only runs on Facebook. If you build an application for Google’s OpenSocial, it will run on any site that supports it – and so far, that’s almost every social networking site except Facebook.

Erick Schonfeld is absolutely right – the ball is in Facebook’s court now. They could handle this very well and come out on top, which is what I think they’ll do. My guess is that they will support OpenSocial eventually. Or they could handle it very poorly and screw up everything they’ve got going for them.

OpenSocial has been the hot topic for the last couple days, and there’s a ton of stuff up on TechMeme if you want to read more about it. This post from Dare Obasanjo will definitely make you stop and think, so make sure you read it:

In thinking about the Google OpenSocial Announcement I realized how much some of Google’s recent moves remind me of Microsoft of old [for some undeclared definition of old].

The five reasons Dare suggests all make sense to me. Still not sure what to make of that.

UPDATE: After thinking about this some more, it occurred to me that the headlines streaming across the web today would probably confuse the average Internet user. I mean, the average user probably uses both Google and Facebook in a (mostly) mutually exclusive way. Google is for search, Facebook is for wall posts. A headline like “Google vs. Facebook” would seem somewhat strange to that user. Or am I not giving the average user enough credit?

Read: TechCrunch

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