Googler's Take on OpenSocial, Social Networks

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-03-04 Print this article Print

title=Barriers to Building Enterprise Apps}

What are the barriers to building enterprise applications on top of the Facebook, MySpace and OpenSocial-based sites? 

You have to start with a need. That's the first potential barrier. Is there a need for such applications? There's a second barrier around technology. Then there's a third one around a go-to-market model, where you find a way to deliver technology that delivers value to users. There are many settings in the business world where I might not use the word friend to describe them but where taking advantage of my network of associates could help me succeed better at my job.

I think sites liked LinkedIn are starting down that path. The first application people really started using on LinkedIn was job searches. That's an application. There's apps in the business world like "where are you going to be when" so you can connect with people. There's expertise sharing.

The second barrier, technology, is getting easier because with OpenSocial, you can have a site like LinkedIn that can't immediately attract 100 million eyeballs and therefore would have a harder time justifying building an application platform just for their audience. They can adopt a standard one. Go-to-market is the hardest one to predict. People will start conducting business at nightclubs, which is essentially what it would mean to start interacting with your associates at Facebook?ö?ç?Âmaybe.

There might be a way to create a professional neighborhood within a larger garden. If you look at the music business, there is absolutely business being conducted at MySpace. Or, the LinkedIns will end up becoming a rich place to do business. It could be something more transformative, something like what Plaxo's trying to do where you build a bridging network where you identify your relationships as friend, or business or family and you don't have an overall mood to the site; it's just sort of a data site where applications can emerge on top of it. I would expect we would see all three approaches tried.

Data portability is a huge theme, both at this conference and in the social networking space overall. What is Google's take on the ability to move social profile data from one site to the next? 

That is what users want and what they should want and it's up to all of us in the industry to build it. Exactly how it will get there and what the right standards are, there are some clear winners that are pieces of it. OpenID is clearly a good thing. OAuth is good.

I haven't seen anyone paint a complete end-to-end thing that makes sense, but it's a fairly deep infrastructure change. It'll take a little while to kick in. The question is: How do we enable it? It's a combination of technology and user habits.


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